30 Dec 2014

Paris Par Nuit



PARIS BY NIGHT



If you are ever in Paris, whether as a tourist or you are living there (perhaps especially if you are living there come to think of it), I recommend that you take the time to dedicate at least a couple of hours to promenading around the city centre after dark. The regular nights where you are rushing out of the metro station and battling all obstacles on the street to get back home don't count!





Hotel de Ville or Town Hall

Visiting some of the famous landmarks beneath the moonlight is simply beautiful. There are also less crowds around than during the day.





Passing Bateau Mouche
 

Notre Dame. I really love this picture.

 

Spooky?




Taking a stroll along the Seine or sitting on the banks is very calming at night time. The passing bateaux mouches cut through the water and leave what seems like ever-expanding ripples after them, which then after a few moments dissipate.





Shakespeare and Company bookshop. One of the most important places in Paris with so much history. It is officially the centre of Paris (marked with a stamp in the floor protected by glass). Has housed many a penniless writer over the years since opening. They would plead their case to the owner in the morning and if successful stay on for a few days before someone else needed temporary housing.
Henry Miller called it a "wonderland of books".


Fire throwers at La Fontaine Saint Michel. It is the quintessential meeting place for Parisians. Think Flinders Street Station in Melbourne




Regardless of the season, there are many lovely memories that can be made along the Seine. I can not recall how many midsummer night picnics I have enjoyed sitting along the riverbank sipping wine and nibbling on cheese with a baguette bought from around the corner, or on a berge with legs happily dangling over the edge.




Pont des Arts
Note: Notice the wooden boards on parts of the bridge's fencing. This is due to the bridge's iconic "Lover's Locks," which after many years of couple's claiming eternal love by locking a padlock onto the fencing resulted in the sides collapsing. Unlucky sign? Can also see the Tour Montparnasse slightly lit up with blue lights.



The Louvre and pyramid

29 Dec 2014

La France in Korea





As a girl having grown up enamoured with French history and culture, and having lived in Paris on and off, I was excited to read that there was a French neighbourhood in Seoul. This is because I had decided to move to Korea for a period of time to learn about the culture and pick up some of the language at one of the universities there. Fantastic I thought, as I would be able to still keep my interest in France entertained in Asia.

South Korea also of course has Alliance Francaises in Seoul and Busan, which offers French language courses as well as the opportunity to sit for the internationally-recognised DELF and DALF exams.

One of the main bakery and coffee chains popular in Korea is "Paris Baguette". These are located everywhere- think "Starbucks".



Hello?! So cute. At Paris Baguette in Chuncheon, South Korea.

"Paris Baguette" offers an extensive choice of pastries and gateaux. It was almost a daily routine popping by in the mornings to grab myself a chausson aux pommes or pain au chocolat.



So the neighbourhood that I talked about...

"SEORAE VILLAGE"


Seorae Village is a French quartier located in Seoul's Banpo-dong district not far from Gangnam-gu, known worldwide for Psy's hit single 'Gangnam Style'. It became a neighbourhood for French expat families in the mid 1980s. It is home to the only official French-language school in Seoul, the Lycee Francais de Seoul and has annual celebrations such as the 'Montmartre Music Festival' and a costume festival, which the students participate in.

There have been more Europeans into the area from outside France as well now, although you can still hear young boys running past you on the street yelling to each other in French. There are also many Italian inspired establishments.

When I visited, I had expected Seorae to be bigger, however there is a distinct French feel about the place. I went with two of my Korean friends who I met in Melbourne.

Subway: 'Express Bus Terminal', line 3, 7 and 9,  Exit 5. Walk and cross the pedestrian bridge.




Walking around Seorae Village on a nice Spring day.





At least here the employees seem somewhat more hygenic unlike in Paris where bread is handed to you with bare hands hehe...



With the abundance of quality restaurants and cafes, you will surely be able to enjoy an authentic European meal here... even with the Korean side dish of pickled radish here and there :-P



What... what is this?




Oh right. It is a crab seemingly 'vomiting' pasta!! Delicieux!
Who doesn't enjoy un petit cafe from beautifully handpainted cups and saucers anyway?




Seorae Village is home to many cute little cafes

Saw this as we were leaving the cafe...



And a bit of Australia here




LADUREE


Ladurée has also been in Korea for a couple of years now. This is from a department store in Gangnam. The general consensus within France -not even arguably-is that the best macarons are to be found at 'Pierre Hermé'. However, M. Hermé is yet to be found overseas to my knowledge, whereas Laduree is really branching out. A store has opened in Sydney and I have heard that Melbourne will be hosting another one of its own soon enough.

My friend and I had both lived in Paris at the same period in time and we were interested to see whether there would be much differentiation between the macarons that we had eaten in France.

I chose a vanilla macaron as well as a rose flavoured one, two of my favourites. I found that the texture was a little bit more creamy than the ones sampled in Paris.





mmm... macarons



Speaking of Pierre Herme (yum!). These are from Paris though.


A baba Ispahan. The cake is drenched in rose and lychee-filled with rasperries






RESTAURANTS/ CAFES



I was invited to a birthday dinner in Itaewon (subway line 6-brown). This was a French restaurant located on the main street. I ordered duck or magret de canard as I do have a weakness for this when in France and tend to order it at any possible opportunity overseas. 
"Le Saint-Ex"-    서울특별시 용산구 이태원 119-28

It is a highly regarded French restaurant. Also has its own Facebook page.





My friend and I visited this little cafe in the Insadong neighbourhood in Seoul. But I unfortunately did not get the name of it. It was opened by a friend of hers who had also lived in Paris for some time. My friend herself had studied at Le Cordon Bleu for two years to graduate with Le Grand Diplome.









28 Dec 2014

Travelling to France?


Statue in gardens of Chateau de Chatilly

Nice












Hi there,


I have decided to create a few blog posts about my experiences and personal recommendations for those visiting France instead of giving individual advice when a friend or colleague is heading off overseas.




The Calanques near Marseille. Loooong trek

 

As the above but finally made it!



St Tropez


Mont Saint Michel in Normandy
 

Le baiser The Kiss, Musee Rodin Paris



 

26 Dec 2014

Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes






Par boil peeled washed potatoes that have been halved. This is so that the potatoes are not completely cooked through and therefore not soft or soggy when put into the oven to roast and fall apart.





Take a small spoonful of duck fat, which can be purchased in most supermarkets or delis and add to the pot. It will begin to melt. Cover the pot with lid and with a tea-towel or oven gloves to protect your hands, and shake so that the fat is distributed to all sides of the potatoes.




 Place the potatoes into a ceramic oven dish with other vegetables you wish to roast. 







 Sprinkle the potatoes with sea salt and place in the oven at about 180 degrees celcius. Leave to slowly roast away until desired crispiness. Keep an eye on them and turn over in intervals to ensure roasted evenly.





 The result will be some very crispy, golden brown potato roasties :-)

24 Dec 2014

A Christmas Trifle... For Any Occasion





This is a great, simple recipe for a trifle that I have been enjoying eating for as long as I can remember and always goes down a treat when served by maman. It is not just for Christmas although usually it is the time of year when I have eaten it the most and you can get a hold of some more 'Christmas flavoured' ingredients.

Attempts to re-create it have been made in Seoul, South Korea by Korean friends who visited my family one year at home in Australia and in Paris, France with different outcomes.

Personally, I have not attempted making a trifle at any time whilst living or passing through Korea. But it appears that finding the ingredients can be incredibly difficult. I was unable to locate my beloved vegemite in Korea even in 신세계 'Shinsegae' department store in Busan reputed to be the biggest department store in the world. But I digress...

The notable experience of creating a trifle being my attempt when I was living in Paris when I was 23 years old. I busily scrambled around the ville des lumieres looking for suitable ingredients or substitutes.

I believed I had everything- after having asked the employees at my local supermarché for "gelée" (French for jelly... surprise, ey?) and being led to the equivalent to 'Tang' orange drink mixtures "Erm...non, pas ça". I then discovered that custard is called "creme anglaise" en français and almost despairing at the thought that perhaps I would have to try to make my own jam sponge roll from scratch (not so appealing back then, though would more than give it a whirl these days); I added the thickened cream only to be somewhat HORRIFIED to learn that it was thickened creme fraîche- the closest thing to Anglo-Saxon SOUR CREAM! Although the packet clearly has crème légère written on it I had thought it was a 'light' low- fat cream that would be a suitable replacement for the usual dollop cream.
Fortunately -or not so much- or most bizarrely, I was told that the trifle was still good. However, this was coming from a French person who had not been introduced to trifle before. I could not eat it   :-(  but boy was there ever a boudeuse (sulker) as that girl on that particular day.



So after a rather longwinded story, here it is:-



Take a packet of jelly (port wine flavoured is ideal) and add about four cups of almost boiling water to absorb the crystals. Slice up a swiss jam roll and layer the base of a large bowl with the slices. Then add jelly liquid to thoroughly cover them. Refrigerate until jelly is firm.

Note: I saw jam sponge rolls at the new Marks & Spencer (UK grocery store) at Centre Commerciale Beaugrenelle in the 15ème. Metro Commerce, ligne 8. You can probably get most ingredients there.



The next step is to add fruit salad. This can be either fresh or canned. In this case, crushed tropical fruit salad is used although I would much prefer a traditional fruit salad with more variety in there.







Take a container of custard (crème anglaise) and cover the sponge roll slices. Because it is Christmas time, it is nice to use a brandy flavoured custard depending on where you are and availability.




After layering the custard, do the same with a very thick dessert cream. Any type of thick cream may be used. Try to cover as much of the sponge as possible with both custard and the cream.


                                                                      mmm...chocolat!

For a garnish, a Cadbury flake is crushed and sprinkled over the top of the trifle. Keep the bowl in the refrigerator to stay cool until you wish to serve it.

Note: Cadbury flakes can be found at the W.H Smith Bookshop on Rue de Rivoli- opposite the Tuileries Gardens and Louvre- on the first floor, where they sell American, British and Australian foodstuffs (yes, including Vegemite!).





And VOILA!


Hope you enjoy
Note: Trifle turned out a little different to usual. Would in retrospect use a more varied fruit salad but was only able to come up with what we used. And personally, I love a bit of extra jelly too!