travel

post63 // where to eat croissants in paris (+video!!)

you’ve asked and i’ve answered! after my last episode of foodstuffs presents here in paris, i asked viewers what they’d like to see more of. requests for croissants came knocking on my inbox, one after another. so here we are! i took the subway on over to east paris — home to the very trendy and bustling “le marais” and bastille neighborhoods — to check out two of the most well-known bakeries in paris.

ride along with me to see which croissant wins out and what bakery you should bookmark for your next trip to paris.


  1. blé sucré (11th arr, bastille) 7 Rue Antoine Vollon, 75012 Paris, open 7am-730pm tuesday-sunday
  2. du pain et des idées (in between 10th and 3rd arr, république) 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, open 645am-8pm weekdays only
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blé sucré’s croissant (left), du pain et des idées (right)

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blé sucré’s croissant, exterior

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blé sucré’s croissant, interior

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du pain et des idées’ croissant, exterior

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du pain et des idées’ croissant, interior

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blé sucré’s croissant (top), du pain et des idées (bottom)


and in this week’s non-croissant related stuff!

current inspo: this hedgehog

my host family showed me the intro to a classic french film with uncanny resemblance to la la land. what do you think?

a great read on new york city restauranteurs


photography and videography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post61 // open this valentine! (psssst, it’s filled with chocolate)

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heavenly chocolate cake douceur chocolat

hellooooo! greetings from my chocolate-filled valentine! since i’m far away from many friends and loved ones on this valentine’s day 2018, i’ve decided to send you a virtual valentine with chocolate creations like the stuff of dreams.

this valentine’s day landed perfectly in the middle of my pastry trimester, which is focused on chocolate work. well done, le cordon bleu scheduling! from chocolate glazes to tempered chocolate to chocolate mousse to chocolate crunch, i’ve been working with a lot (!!) of chocolate this trimester. talk about keeping my uniform supremely white while doing it — the toughest job of them all.

below you can find four chocolately creations that i’ve made in my pastry classes. i’ve listed their core components so that you (yes, you!) can go and make one for yourself!

dark chocolate choux pastry choux au chocolat noir 

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this chocolate choux pastry is filled with chocolate pastry cream and a crispy praline insert. outside, you see a chocolate crunch topping, finished with a dark chocolate glaze.

to get started, check out this recipe for chocolate choux pastry. you’ll quickly see how easy it is!

chocolates (muscadine, praline) chocolats (muscadine, praliné)

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these two types of chocolates are called pralines (the square) and muscadines (the baton). the muscadine is filled with a creamy praline, chocolate, cointreau paste while the praline is filled with a simple chocolate and praline paste. i dipped both in tempered chocolate and rolled the muscadine in icing sugar directly after. to make the “professional” decoration on top, simply use a fork to lightly mark the chocolate 10-20 seconds after dipping, just before the chocolate has set.

don’t have space or a big marble slab to temper chocolate at home? follow this guide for a quick microwave-tempering! thermometer required.

heavenly chocolate cake douceur chocolat

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this three-tier cake is quite the showstopper. the base is a hazelnut dacquoise filled with a praline crunch paste, topped with two layers of chocolate mousse and tempered chocolate rounds. the decoration on top was made with cookie cutters and tempered chocolate.

never heard of a dacquoise? it’s a cake base that’s very popular here in france, made from egg whites and nuts. bonus: it’s gluten free! start this cake by making your first dacquoise with food network’s recipe.

opera opéra

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of all the pastries seen here, you may be most familiar with the opera cake, a parisian classic! this cake alternates between layers of biscuit sponge and coffee buttercream, with a layer of chocolate ganache smack in the middle. on top is a chocolate glaze and the traditional opera writing (my first attempt at writing on cakes!).

you might be able to find this one in a high-end french bakery. but if not, Joe Pastry blog has a great tutorial that matches the authenticity of my recipe from cordon bleu.


just in case you’re wondering

while i’d love to be sharing all my cordon bleu recipes with you, they’re under copywrite. *but* i look forward to testing many of them once i’m out of school and sharing renditions that can be cooked in your home oven. stay tuned on this for next year!


in this week’s other stuff !

a hot new restaurant i’ll be trying in paris this weekend. reviews have been a+++++

books as decor is popping up everywhere (even in my house here in paris!). definitely digging this style trend

wardrobe goals


andddd that’s all for this week, folks! wishing you a very lovely valentine’s day!💖

 

 

post60 // paris in white

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square de la place du commerce, 7 january 1017 8:49am

as i sit here typing, more snow is falling in paris! given that this is a bit of a rarity here, i’ve decided to share some of my favorite images from the week. (all shot by me!)

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rue des 4 frères peignot, 6 january 2017 7:06pm

according to my parisian family, there hasn’t been significant snow in paris in 3 years! i am truly lucky that the sky decided this was the year.

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commerce metro, 7 january 2017 8:52am

to celebrate the occasion, i took to the streets wednesday morning and started photographing. the city was the quietest i’ve ever heard it, reminding me of new york city in the snow.

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already, paris is beautiful. topped with a fluffy cushion of white, it’s just enchanting.

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rue des presles, 7 january 2017 9:17am

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avenue de suffren, 7 january 2017 9:20am

since i live close(ish) to the eiffel tower, i headed over to champ de mars, the huge green space in front of the tower, to get some images of the snow-crusted landmark.

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champ de mars, 7 january 2017 9:24am

the snow had just stopped and it was early enough that the white blanket was still intact!

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champ de mars, 7 january 2017 9:24am

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champ de mars, 7 january 2017 9:31am

one of the best parts of this snowfall was watching other people experience it. i have classmates at school who walked through snow for the first time this week. as we butchered a chicken on wednesday in class, my friend saw his first snowflakes! talk about ideal 😜.

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rue violet, 7 january 2017 9:02am

the toddlers from the preschool next to my house excitedly played in the snow all wednesday, most of them seeing snow for the first time! i dodged snowballs on the way home from school tuesday night.

the whole event has made me feel like a true kid, the way only snow can.

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rue des entrepreneurs, 7 january 2017 9:57am

and i couldn’t resist a foodie pic in the snow. are we surprised??

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rue de javel, 8 january 2017 2:54pm

to end: the less glamorous side of parisian snow. somehow, i still think it’s beautiful!


i’m currently working on a valentine’s day post that features many of the chocolates i’ve been making in pastry this trimester. tune into the blog this sunday for the feature!

happy weekend everyone. xx


all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs.

post51 // 48 hours in paris

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bonjour! i hope your november is off to a wonderful start, with the bundling of scarves and sipping of hot cocoas already making you feel the coziest you’ve been all year. at least that’s how i feel 🤗.

it’s truly fall here in paris! the leaves have almost all fallen off their mama branches and the temperature is starting to drop. daylight savings is past and i can now wake up without it being pitch dark outside, woohoo! in celebration of this beautiful season, i compiled a 48 hour guide to paris, specific to this leafy, festive, and warming (check) time of year! some notes:

this guide is not for the list checker. no, it doesn’t include every major sight and you may not recognize every area or name. instead, this guide is for someone who wants to really see paris: to see the brasseries, to see french people sunbathing in luxembourg gardens, to see what they eat and how they are. of course, there’s some great food in here too. so if you’re interested, hop on board!

day one, morning

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pastry breakfast at a local boulangerie: all hail the boulangerie! for those of you who were stumped by the word like i was, it translates to a bakery, specifically one focused on bread products. many boulangeries in paris also include viennoserie — typically laminated bread products i.e. puff pastry, croissants, the pain au chocolat above — and sometimes patisserie — a term you’re likely more familiar with, indicating pastries i.e. macaroons, tarts, etc. regardless of your hotel (though i’ve listed some great suggestions below!), you’ll be seconds away from a solid boulangerie in paris. they’re frequent and smell wonderfully doughy from the outside sidewalk so don’t be shy — head in and pick up a croissant! find it! but do note that many boulangeries are not open on sundays

rodin museum: this museum is a true treat in the fall as the gardens are shades of green, yellow, orange and everything in between. the artist behind the museum is auguste rodin, a french sculptor during the late 19th-century, early 20th-century. below you can see his (arguably) most famous work, Le Penseur a.k.a The Thinker. additionally, the gardens and museum offer a fabulous view of the hôtel des invalides. 77 rue de varenne, 75007 paris, open 10am-5:45pm every day except monday

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afternoon

lunch at kapunka: it’d be a shame for you to come all the way to paris and not taste some of the incredible ethnic foods this city has to offer. it’s half the fun (or more)! kapunka is a thai restaurant that i have absolutely fallen in love with here. musts: tom kha kaï soup to start, pad thaï, and their mango rice. 32 rue delambre, 75014 paris (with other locations in paris), open 11:30am-3:30pm and 6:30pm-11pm every day but sunday

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a walk through luxembourg garden: there’s no prettier place to digest a big lunch than here. if the sun’s out, grab a seat like a true parisian and get some color on your face. despite the crowds, this place can make you feel miles away from the city. jardin du luxembourg, 75006 paris

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snack time at pierre hermé: depending on how long you sunbathed, you might be a bit hungry! never fear. ditch the touristed and overblown macaroons at ladurée and head to pierre hermé. their entire showcase, macaroons included, are exquisite and definitely something you can’t get anywhere else! my favorite? their salted caramel macaroon. 72 rue bonaparte, 75006 paris, open 10am-7pm daily

evening

if you’re like me than the following activities don’t begin without a nap. grab some quick zzz’s before heading out for a night on the town!

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walk through saint-germain: it’s hard not to be enchanted with this neighborhood. saint-germain is filled with gothic architecture, pedestrian-only streets, live music, bustling brasseries, shops, the list goes on! for a weekend night, it’s a wonderful place to soak up culture and enjoy the evening. walking through saint-germain’s alleys and under it’s arches will definitely wake you up and work up an appetite for dinner.

dinner at le relais de l’entrecote: now, there are many, many, many!!! steak frites restaurants throughout paris. i am not here to say le relais de l’entrecote is the best as i haven’t been to them all. but, if you are looking for a solid steak frites option, this is a great one. service is wonderful, food is served immediately, and there’s a beautiful indoor-outdoor patio out front. there’s no menu so all you have to choose is wine. voilà! 20 rue saint-benoît (with other locations in paris), 75006 paris, open 12pm-2:30pm and 7pm-11:30pm daily

second round of wine at bar etna: a cozy bar in the middle of a bustling street! bar etna will make you feel at home, and their wine doesn’t hurt either. 33 rue mazarine, 75006 paris, open 6:30pm-2am tuesday-saturday

day two, morning

breakfast at fragments coffee shop and cafe: i linked to this gem of a cafe last week in last week’s post and i still can’t get enough! their sweet potato cake is superb and though you may never feel as cool as the hipsters who walk in here, it’s a great place to people watch the young and hip frenchies. 76 rue de tournelles, 75003 paris, open 10am-6pm on weekends

sit in the place des vosges: this is the oldest planned square in all of paris and boy was it planned well. take in the sun and grab a seat at one of the endless benches that line the square. place des vosges, 75004 paris

afternoon

lunch at glou: luckily you didn’t fill up too much at fragments, leaving plenty of room for a delicious lunch at glou. though they offer both entrees and small plates, i’d recommend the latter. highlights: comte cheese, eggplant. 101 rue vieillle du temple, 75003 paris, open 12pm-5pm and 7:30pm-11pm on weekends

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shopping in le marais or le pompidou: your choice! in terms of shopping, le marais is the place for interiors and clothing. my favorite shop in the marais has to be les milles feuilles (translates to the thousand leaves), an interior shop. give it a look! 2 rue rambuteau, 75003 paris, open 10:30am-7:30pm on saturdays and 2pm-7pm on sundays

and the pompidou! check out the exhibits they’re running as you get ready for your trip. some are pretty unbelievable. not to mention, the architecture of the building itself: a staircase you don’t want to miss! place georges-pompidou, 75004 paris 

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walk down to aux merveilleux de fred: eat a true french meringue, covered in chocolate shavings, exploding with buttercream from all sides. sounds good, right? the meringues at aux merveilleux de fred are so beautiful and inviting, you might just have to have more than one. think of it as dinner’s appetizer! 24 rue de pont louis-philippe (with other locations in paris), 75004 paris, open 9am-8pm

evening

eat dinner at la régalade saint-honoré: come here for the soufflé. stay for the soufflé. eat the soufflé. 106 rue saint honoré, 75001 paris, open 12pm-2:30pm and 7pm-11pm on weekends

nightcap at harry’s: end your trip with a nightcap at the home of the bloody mary and the french 75. known as the original cocktail bar, this “new york bar” was a popular spot for expats in the 1920s. with history and liquor on your side, head to harry’s for a true time warp. 5 rue daunou, 75002 paris, open 12pm-2am on saturdays and 4pm-1am on sundays

lodging recos

hotel relais saint germain 9 carrefour de l’odeon, 75006 paris

hotel emile 2 rue Mahler, 75004 paris

or this uber chic airbnb rue delambre, 75014 montparnasse


planning your trip yet?


all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs with the exception of the 6th photo by sofitel, and the 5th and last photo by her mama, caroline fawcett

 

post49 // french wine, explained

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hey hey! happy tuesday! the past couple weekends have been a crazy whirlwind of adventures for me sandwiched between days and nights spent cake making and fish gutting during the week. i know it’s only tuesday but i hope you’ll have a glass of wine tonight after hearing my learnings from the most informative wine tour there ever was…

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a significant wine program is offered at Le Cordon Bleu, where students learn about wine and food pairings as well French wine, it’s history, how it’s made, how it tastes. though i’m not enrolled in their wine program, the department offers a wine tour of the loire valley each trimester. they didn’t have to ask me twice to join! along with some friends from my cuisine and pastry program, and my mom who was in paris visiting at the time, we set out at the crack of dawn for the two hour trip south of paris.

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first stop: Vincent Carême Winery in vernou-sur-brenne

if the entrance to this wine cellar wasn’t enchanting enough, margaux, the winery owner’s oversized dachshund was. margaux accompanied us on our morning visit through the Carême vineyards and well into our wine tasting there. the region we visited within the loire valley was known for it’s sparkling white wines, and specifically vouvray at the Carême vineyards. vouvray wine is made from the chenin blanc grape. it can be produced into both sparkling and still wines, my favorite from our tasting being their sparkling vouvray.

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wondering how they get such great sparkling wine? here are some reasons:
  1. fermentation. the actual sparklization (i made up a word today!) of the wine occurs because it has been carbonated — in Carême’s case by an extra fermentation. this fermentation happens as sugar ferments into alcohol. most interesting to the Caréme wines though was that they don’t add additional sugars to their wine. none! instead, the natural sugars from their grapes do the work, leaving a wine that is wholly organic. it’s great for avoiding hangovers too, bye excess sugar!
  2. soil. if i learned one thing on this tour, it was that soil matters. with both vineyard visits, letting the soil do it’s own thing was of the most importance. for the Carême winery, they hand-pick all their grapes, limiting as much machinery as possible used from grape to bottle. this way, they can ensure they snag all their grapes in entirety, and don’t damage the vineyard with machines trudging through.
  3. weather. as the past year has been a cool one, Carême and other vouvray producers in the area will shift to making more dry and sparkling wines for production. if the weather had been hotter and more humid, there would be more sweeter, dessert-type wines. the weather in this region is highly variable so you take great risk being a wine producer here!

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second stop: La Cave restaurant in montlouis-sur-loire

a great place to rest your legs and visit when in the loire valley. the restaurant offers delicious french fare, accompanied of course by wine from the region. make sure you get their meringue for dessert! it’s unmatched in lemony flavor, and size. and fyi, cave doesn’t mean cave in french, it mean’s cellar!

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third stop: Domaine de la Taille aux Loups with Mr. Jacky Blot in montlouis-sur-loire

just a quick drive from la cave sits domaine de la taille aux loups, the vineyards of jacky blot. that’s my mom and i outside his home and tasting room!

jacky took us on a ride through his nearly 5000-acer vineyard property and boy did we learn something. unlike the Carême vineyard, Jacky hadn’t yet picked his grapes. this meant that we actually got to go into his fields and see the grapes just as they were about to be picked (he ended up picking them a week later!).

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jacky explained to us one of the most important stages of the grapes for his production: noble rot. i’d never heard of the stage myself but for this specific vineyard, acheiving noble rot is necessary in producing their wines. to get a grape to noble rot, the grape must be highly ripe and have taken on a grey layer of fungus on the outside skin. yes, fungus sounds gross but i promise it makes a damn good wine!
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here jacky shows the inside of a noble rot — yes, he sacrificed a grape for us! — and you can see it resembles a raisin in the middle. for this reason, the noble rot grapes can produce highly concentrated sweet wines. yum!

there’s a very small time frame between when the grape takes on noble rot and then develops grey rot, a damaging form of the rot that will ruin the grape for production. as you can see in the image of the grape bundle above, some of those grapes have taken on grey rot and shriveled, thus unable to use in production. as we visited, jacky mentioned how he’s been checking the weather like crazy, figuring out which exact day to pick his grapes.

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if you hadn’t deducted already, my title is a bit misleading as i couldn’t possibly explain all of french wine to you. that would take a very long book and decades of research! but, i did learn an enormous amount about wine and grape production and i hope you enjoyed the knowledge bit too. below you can find the two wine producers’ information and their profiles on wine.com. they both have tasting rooms where you can drop in and visit but you might have to do some extra sweet-talking if you want to get into their vineyards 😉

and in this week’s other stuff!!!

  • best. leather bags. ever. get you one! (they ship internationally and through etsy)
  • if you’ve got a knack or interest in politics, sign up for my brother rob’s weekly newsletter! starting five supplies you with all the know-how to keep up with today’s state of politics

that’s all folks! xx


Vincent Carême Winery 1 rue du haut clos 37210 Vernou sur Brenne
Purchase: wine.com
Domaine de la Taille aux Loups  8, rue des Aîtres – Husseau 37 270 Montlouis sur Loire
Purchase: wine.com

post46 // london town

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hello friends!! i hope your day is going well. i am back in paris and culinary school after a long weekend spent in london. it was my first time there! and i just loved it. not to mention, i had the best tour guide around: my good friend from college, greta! before i get into the dirty details of our weekend, let’s just take a moment to look at how cool the taxis are there!!! this blue one was my fave.

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pastries at aubaine deli in covent garden

after two weeks in immersion boot camp (a.k.a. french host family and culinary school where chefs only speak french), english-speaking london was a nice brain break for 48 hours. visiting a friendly face, particularly greta’s, was also a true treat. my weekend there started with a terrific walking tour after a late brunch at dishoom. greta might as well be a professional tour guide so i’d advise you all to book her for your next visit to london.

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big ben in the flesh

from covent garden to trafalgar square to buckingham palace to westminister abbey to the palace of westminister to big ben to the river thames to the london eye, we saw. it. all. and the rain held off!

while we were at buckingham palace, greta pointed out that the queen was in because the royal standard flag was raised. i waved but i don’t think she saw me through her windows!

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buckingham palace

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queen victoria statue outside of buckingham palace

while we didn’t physically go on the london eye that afternoon, we did sit across the river from it at a bar on a boat called tattershall castle. if you can’t get on the (might i say very slow-moving) london eye, this spot is definitely your next best view. after all that walking, we went back to greta’s place to relax before a big indian dinner at tayyabs. can you tell we like indian food?!

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london eye 👀

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tayyabs spread

day two in london began with a place that i will undoubtedly be returning to for the rest of my life. before leaving her apartment, greta described this place as my “heaven on earth.”

she was right.

enter borough market, london’s famed food market situated just beside the london bridge. this place was incredible! the only thing i could relate it to was smorgasburg but it was x100000 better (sorry new york!).

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berliner pastries at a german bakery stand, borough market

greta’s german heritage led us to a small german bakery stand, filled with berliners, apple cakes, cheese cakes, and more. we actually went back to this stand twice throughout our ~6 hours spent on and off at borough market. the owner was lovely and gave me some tips on how to make her creamy and crumbly apple cake! blog post coming on a recipe there soon!

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that’s pure joy folks (while eating an apple cake)

i’ve never seen so many different types of food all in one place. the serving platters were ginormous and evidently necessary, given the expansive market space was packed to the brim.

if you do go to borough market, i’d recommend bringing a buddy along as there is just too much food that you want to try that you can’t eat all by yourself. greta and i managed to split most of our portions and therefore eat more different types of food than we could’ve if we were just alone. tag teaming borough market for the win!

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paella tastings fo free!

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greta modeling w our cheese stick

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market views

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scotch eggs! because of course

the photos catalog pretty much everything i ate at borough market. it was definitely one of those days where you loosen up the first button of your jeans.

to round out our afternoon at borough market, greta and i headed to the pubs where i reunited with some of my brother jake’s friends from college. it’s a funny thing living abroad — you end up seeing and connecting with people you haven’t seen in ages, and it’s wonderful!

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goodbye for now london! it was great getting to know you. i have a feeling i’ll be back, especially because you’re just two hours away!!

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Dishoom 5 Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AB

Covent Garden Covent Garden, London WC2E 8BE

Tattershall Castle Victoria Embankment, Whitehall, London SW1A 2HR

Tayyabs 83-89 Fieldgate St, London E1 1JU

Borough Market 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL


aaaand in this week’s other stuff:

  • glossier came to paris !!!! (hi melissa!)
  • this is what kitchens can do. (h/t kate)
  • don’t you just sometimes want to dress in hot pink?

again, any paris recos please send my way! i have a big weekend of exploring ahead of me and i’m taking all the advice i can get 🙂

post25 // a culinary duel over the new orleans beignet: café du monde vs. cafe beignet

ImageCafé Du Monde ImageCafe Beignet

While my visit to New Orleans over spring break was incipiently established as a rite of passage through the famed Mardi Gras, I quickly realized that the trip was going to mean a lot more to me than college keg stands and bead-hunting. In a procrastinating research method during midterm week, I searched through endless website pages titled around the edible in New Orleans. “Must-eats,” “Where-to-eat,” and “City Guide to Eating,” were just three of the redundant headings that popped up as I scrolled down the Google and Pinterest search feeds. Though I’d visited New Orleans once with a high school program (see photo below), given my newfound food curiosity in tune with the excitement of Mardi Gras, I was biting to get down to the Big Easy.

ImageAge 15, eating beignets at Café Du Monde

During the four days spent in the city of cajun food and jazz, I was lucky enough to try two servings of beignets from the acclaimed Café Du Monde and the appropriately named Cafe Beignet. Both restaurants served outrageously rich versions of the Creole classic: fried pastry dough fritters drowned in powdered sugar that couldn’t help but dust your clothes with a layer of white film. As is appropriate for a culinary duel, I will detail the two beignet episodes.

My friends and I made a point to go to the Cafe Beignet on Bourbon street the morning after our first night in the city. There, we devoured an excellently greasy breakfast of egg sandwiches on croissant buns and crawfish omelets. The main course was followed by two rounds of beignets (a third round came a little later). The sugar-coated fried pastry was just out of the fryer, warm enough to make my fingers play hot potato until the treat was in my mouth. To be frank, you can’t really go wrong with fried dough, especially when you bring sugar into the mix. My friends who were first being introduced to beignet heaven savored every minute of their full-mouthed bites.

Our visit to Café Du Monde took place later in the trip, after a cab ride home from uptown on our last night in New Orleans. I was appalled by the fact that the next morning, I could leave New Orleans without returning to the renowned cafe where I tried my first beignet. Compellingly dragging my friends to the Café Du Monde off of Jackson Square, we had a few questions about the menu. Ironically, while Cafe Beignet offered more than beignets, Café Du Monde only served beignets and beverages. Despite some of my friends’ wishes for a fuller late-night meal, the beignets proved we chose correctly in staying put. If you’re going to have just one item on your menu, it needs to be good; and yes they were better than good. Café Du Monde’s beignets were hot like those at Cafe Beignet but proved to melt even tastier and gooier into my mouth after a few bites through the fried outer-layer. Covered similarly to those at Cafe Beignet in mounds of powdered sugar, our beignets that early morning were just the right pick for a quick snack. Sitting with my friends and eating at Café Du Monde was an unforgettable last treat to the Mardi Gras experience.

To be fair, both sets of beignets were sugarfiably delectable. In a narrow competition, the beignets at Café du Monde had an edge over those at Cafe Beignet. I recommend making a trip down to New Orleans one day to not only try the quintessential beignets, but also the  flavorful Creole cuisine—look-out, a post on the cajun cuisine is coming soon!