Friday, May 23, 2008

strike here, strike there, strike everywhere.

belgium train strike, france national strike, netherlands bus strike...

... all in a span of the 4 months i've been here. in the name of worker's rights, it's apparently a common occurence in europe. just hearing the S word makes us jump to our feet, praying that it won't happen on the day we need to travel. when you really get hit by the inconvenience of such strikes, sometimes you'll appreciate singapore's strict laws a little more.

it can really be quite a pain in the ass! imagine getting all excited about a holiday, with train or air tickets booked, hotels waiting, only to be told that you have to stay at home and lose some money because of a strike. suayamakalaosai!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

... and ice cream.

on our first trip to find the famous (=recommended by websites and lonely planet) berthillon store, we reached there only to find it under renovation. berthillon is famous for its ice cream, and it seems that it also supplies its ice cream to every other restuarant or creperie along that same street. well, i refused to buy from the other shops because how can i come all the way to paris to find berthillon ice cream and not get it from the very original store itself? tsk. so on the second last day fang and i went back again, hoping it'd be open by then. it was supposed to, as stated on the notice in front of the shop, but i've heard so much about the french way of life that one can never be too sure. =)

signs of life = good news

there was a queue! which means it's open! it's about 2.10 euros per scoop, not exactly the cheapest and biggest scoop of ice cream around, but since it's so famous we decided to take 2 scoops each.

le berthillon menu

fang took coconut and strawberry flavours, while i chose the pear and chocolate-orange ones.

they sold their ice creams in small square tins, abit like our mobile ice cream ah pek

the strawberry sorbet was normal, tasting almost the same as venezia ice cream's. my chocolate with orange bits was unique but a bit too exotic for my taste buds. the chocolate was too sweet and biting into the orange bits gave a bitter taste which i didn't fancy. for acquired tastebuds i guess.

happy yi fang

that said, the coconut flavour was pretty delicious, with a very rich coconutty taste and also little bits of coconut shreds in it. however, the flavour that blew me away was the pear. i never knew pears could be made into ice creams, and boy should it have been invented eons ago! it was extremely refreshing and addictive and a definite must try should you ever bump into a store selling berthillon's ice cream.
camel eating ice cream
29-31 rue saint Louis en l'ile
75004 Paris

of cakes...

you know how a "bakery" in singapore probably means like a shop selling loads of bread, with a few selection of cakes at the cashier? When we talk about buying a cake we immediately think of a huge 1kg cake for birthdays etc. in paris, a "bakery" means almost the same thing, except with a lot more emphasis on the sweet stuff (cakes, macarons etc.) as compared to back home.

for almost every bakery we passed by, we would stop to admire the vast selection of dessert-worthy cakes and be amazed at the exquisite creations. of course, some shops' cakes looked much nicer than others.

try to imagine this in breadtalk.. haha.

i'm not sure why we ended up stepping into this one, but we definitely didn't regret it. it looks like any other bakery in paris but somehow i could feel the cakes on display calling out to me, "eattttt meee, eatttt me chiannn" business was brisk, and it's always a good sign to see a queue in a bakery.

so fang and i shared one of the cakes, and we chose the one that looked the shiniest and most chocolatey. it's called malicieux, try to spot in the photo above!

they pack their cakes in paper! proof that it's not a high class place like laduree

it was the chocolate mousse inside was extremely rich and chocolatey but with the right amount of sweetness, and there even was a yellow-custard looking filling in the middle. it was about 3 euros (S$6) for that cake, decently priced in euro terms and is definitely yummier than the cakes you'd find in bakerzin or canele! not to forget, this is a neighbourhood bakery in france we are talking about. so jealous of the french. humph.

the thing about paper is that precious chocolate sticks to it.

rich & creamy chocolate mousse inside

La Boulangerie Julien

this is the address i got from the website:

75 r St Honoré 75001 PARIS

this is the store which i went:

24 (?) r St Martin 75004 PARIS

Thursday, May 15, 2008

magnificant majestic macaron madness more more moreee!

ps: please pardon the photos, they're either taken secretly or i was too busy munching to be arty farty.

the premier of chian and fang's food trail in paris has to start with a bang, which is why we'll talk about nothing but macarons today. according to wikipedia, a macaron is a french pastry dating back to the 18th century, made of egg whites, almond powder, icing sugar and sugar. sounds simple enough, but apparently it is extremely difficult to make good macarons.

the pride of france

in 1930, laduree, a teashop and pastry-shop in paris started creating a new version of the macaron with a ganache filling in the middle, resulting in macarons which are crunchy on the outside but moist, chewy and flavourful on the inside. (thanks wiki, what would i do without you.)

taste explosion

laduree was definitely my number one must-find place when i was in paris, and if chian wants to try it, she's gonna walk the whole of paris if she must to find it. lo and behold, laduree has a few branches and there's one conveniently located just along paris' most famous street, champs elysees.

high class tea shop

the first time i was there, the waiting line for the tea room was extremely long, perhaps due to the public holiday week. we went into the takeaway section which was also pretty crowded, but that didn't really matter because we were more interested in the beautifully crafted pastries on display.

patient patrons picking pastries

miniature pastries

everything was soooooo beautiful. even the normal pastries like croissants were glistering and shining in full glory under the romantic lighting of the shop. needless to say, the macarons were the real stars, with so many different colours i just felt like buying them all!

so many colours, so many flavours

well, except one small macaron costs a whopping 1.50euros (~S$3.20), so being kiam siap singaporeans fang and i bought 2 macarons just to try it out first. did i mention the packaging was very beautiful too, except it costs even more if you want to put the macarons in one of the nicely decorated boxes.

a grand total of 2 macarons in our bag

even the paper bag looks so grand

the first one we bit into, caramel flavoured macaron. i was expecting the usual overly sweet stinging taste of caramel of set in, only to be pleasantly surprised at how smooth the ganache was, and the best part - it wasn't sweet at all! the domes that contained the ganache was crunchy and laced with bits of yummy almond bits on the inside.

absolutely delicious caramel flavoured - my favourite

crunchy on the outside, smooth and fragrant on the inside

we also bought the croissant because we've never seen such a shiny croissant before. seriously, i think they waxed their pastries before selling them or something. it didn't disappoint either, was extremely fluffy and tasty!


apparently, laduree's macarons are the best in paris and i can see why. those were my first macarons and the only ones i tried, but i'm pretty sure it'd be tough to find another store that's able to match it.

laduree! laduree!

i'm in love with macarons now. fang was so sweet to surprise me with a box of them on the last day, the rest of the flavours were all super duper yummy too!

pretty box, pretty macarons, pretty good way to end a trip

Ladurée Champs Elysées

75, avenue des Champs Elysées - 75008 Paris

Monday, May 12, 2008


one whole week in paris and we barely covered the main attractions! it was rainy, windy and cold the first two days we arrived - in other words, depressing. my impression of paris got off on the wrong note, and over the next few days i found myself trying to decide what it is exactly that makes paris the city of romance.

the streets of paris are extremely compact

other than the eiffel tower, which is really gorgeous when it twinkles every hour, i think the other attractions are a little overrated. the louvre is HUGE, monstrous to that effect, but maybe because i'm more of a contemporary arts person, my trip to pompidou gallery was more enjoyable. i think paris is romantic only if you're visiting with your lover, and you do nothing but sit by the seine (river) or one of the huge jardins (gardens), whiling the day away with some crepes and wine.

the photo looks nicer than the real thing

perhaps it was due to the public holiday, but there were TONS of people everywhere. it was so crowded i could hardly figure how it could be romantic standing under the eiffel tower with thousands of others and hawkers walking pass every minute trying to sell you a miniature tower, chanting "one euro one euro one euro".

look closely below the tower, it's a blanket of humans!

that said, paris grew on me as the days went by, and i enjoyed myself the most on days when there was nothing much to do except walk around slowly along the river, stopping occasionally for some ice cream or crepe. my favourite part of paris is obviously the food! delectable french cuisine, heavenly macarons, sensational crepes - i'd go back on a makan holiday again! (which also means i should go back with $$$ in my pocket)

met my friend lumpy in disneyland!

people also said that the french really don't like people speaking english to them, but almost everyone i came into contact with were really nice and friendly. i left kanon in the hostel for most of the days because i've been suffering from a chronic left shoulder ache, probably due to the long hours of carrying him and a huge water bottle around in my bag for the past few months. even then, i've got over a thousand photos from paris! atrocious.

click here for favourite shots of paris.
click here for bits and pieces of paris.
click here for paris disneyland!

Friday, May 9, 2008

in stitch heaven.

so much to do so little time! will sort through my photos and update about paris when i am free, here's a little entertainment in the free time.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


was eating breakfast at the hostel this morning when i was alerted of a familiar sighting. what a great way to start the day! =)

where's donkey? behind me, heh!