Frenchie and Amsterdam

20 Nov

How is it even possible I’ve never traveled to Amsterdam before?

I am in love!

And I am still thinking about this trip and our time walking around the canals last month when it was still 65-70 degrees outside.

A mere 3 hours away from Paris by train – it is beyond me I have never thought about spending some time in Holland before.

But I should really thank my friends from the Midwest for moving to Amsterdam and giving me this opportunity to stroll through the city and absorb as much as possible le temps d’un week-end.

By bike, by boat, by feet and by tram, we went around and around like mice in a maze of bridges, picturesque water views, tiny streets and cool cafés.

And Paris should definitely be scared because when it comes to cafés Amsterdam is in my opinion winning.

A few of my favorites and best discoveries are listed below.

Café van Leeuwen – a lunch outside sitting at the terrace with views of the canal? Yes please! And you cannot go wrong with their spicy butternut squash soup with a kale salad and a local beer.

De Koffie Salon on Utrechtsestraat – drinking a tea or coffee upstairs with oversized pictures of old European movie stars make you feel like you are in a black and white movie. And eating a blackcurrant pastry with Sophia Loren watching over you is my definition of indulging.

Museum Van Loon – a private maison bourgeoise to visit while picturing a time when rich merchants ruled the city and the canals. Time capsule Amsterdam style.

- TwoForJoy – and who wouldn’t want another pastry from a place where people sit outside and drink their coffees while playing cards or focusing on a coloring book?

- Vinnies – the space is what attracted me first. An old piano next to a refurbished Louis XIV style sofa on painted white wood boards. And the organic mint tea to soothe an aching body from walking too much in the city.

- Ibericus – it is not often I get to stop on the side of the road, dismount my Gazelle Dutch bike, and walk into a place to order jamón ibérico to go. This place has it all!

- De Taart van m’n Tante – like stepping inside a doll house or your worst kitsch nightmare, the colors will surprise you, the fake flowers will make you smile, but the appeltaart will make you want to have a second piece.

- Sama Sebo – when in Amsterdam, eat Indonesian food! And when it’s rijsttafel night, make sure to come hungry.

Frenchie and a Colorful Adventure

23 Oct

I feel lucky!

Lucky to have amazing family and friends who took care of me for 3 weeks.

Lucky the weather smiled at me throughout the trip with warm temperatures and a bright golden sun.

Lucky to still discover unknown streets and areas – nooks and crannies to stumble upon.

Lucky to have readers who push me to share more of my experiences, tips and addresses.

Some of you asked me to include new addresses I’ve noted along the way, which I have done in the past but apparently not enough.

So without further ado, my Top 10 list in no particular order of my recent French trip.

1. Lunch at Buvette to share small plates, a slice of pâté, a glass of rosé, a tartinette and a pastry. Little, cosy and rustic. And if you cannot make it to Paris, there is a location in the West Village in New York City.

2. La campagne à Paris in the 20th. A small parcel of land with plant-covered houses, small gardens and picket fences – in Paris! A quick magical instant resembling more la province than the capital we all know (rue Irénée Blanc, rue Paul Strauss).

3. Tucked away in the 1st is Verjus with a tasting menu that would most likely thrill the pickiest eaters. French in spirit but American to the core, it is a unique experience.

4. Did you know that 55 minutes by train from Paris there is a town where the old city is so well preserved that the Roman wall surrounding it is still partly standing and dates back to the 3rd century? How could I not encourage friends visiting France to spend a day or two in Le Mans. It is picture perfect for anyone looking to snap pictures of a cathedral built between the 11th and 15th centuries and to walk the tiny narrow streets where the oldest houses are from the 14th century and the newest from the 15-16th centuries with people still living in them.

5. My friend Lindsey took me to La Pulperia one night for a meal I won’t forget anytime soon. And dragging this Rive Gauche boy to the other side of the world in the 11th is not easy, trust me!

6. If there is one thing that I absolutely love about Paris is the small non-touristy streets with lots of plants, colors and charm. Rue des Thermopyles in the 14th, Villa Santos Dumont in the 15th, la Cité Florale in the 13th (rue des Iris, rue des Glycines), and the stunning rue Crémieux in the 13th where Notting Hill meets Paris – truly a feast for the eyes.

7. Is there a prettiest name for a hotel than Hôtel Amour? The courtyard in the back is a must-see, especially before winter and before the leaves fall and disappear from the trees, for a goûter or an apéritif with friends. A peaceful serene greenhouse-like ambiance away from the hustle and bustle.

8. While I mentioned this bakery several times already, it is always a stop for me when I am in town – Au Petit Versailles du Marais. And I decided to mention them again because they won 2nd place in the baguette tradition competition this year. First place next year? I hope! Even if you’re not hungry when you walk by it, the Belle Époque ceiling, the tiles and the mirrors will give you a stiff neck from looking around, up and down.

9. Even though I only had a kir there during their happy hour, I was fascinated by the space at Le Jules in the Carreau du Temple. Truly creative and impressed by the renovation they did of that space. Very spacious and modern, yet chic and warm with a voluminous design soothed by the wooded light framework. Bravo!

10. If you like the New York High Line, you will like the Paris Coulée Verte. They are still working on it as I am writing this so don’t expect the same length of green path through the city. However, the Petite Ceinture in another area of town also offers a walkable green promenade.

Frenchie and a Peach Summer Salad

18 Aug

Summer local peachesScenes from SoCalWhat can I say? When the peaches from Georgia and South Carolina are abundant, salads, tarts and cobblers become staple items on the kitchen counter.

Mixing peaches and tomatoes is one of my favorite food pairing.

It’s a bit unusual but when you think about it more it just makes sense.

Blueberries and lemon.

Honeydew and cucumber.

Strawberries and basil.

… et maintenant, les pêches et les tomates.

Honey-roasted cherry tomatoes Near San Diego, CA Colorful Charlotte's 4th Ward Out and about in SoCalI started to make this salad before I left for Southern California.

It followed me all summer long so far.

Picnic on the grass under giant trees.

Warm summer dinner on the balcony.

Friend’s evening garden party.

Sunday pot luck by the river.

Or on-the-go for a light lunch.

I like it a lot, if it wasn’t obvious already, and I hope you will too!

Coronado Hotel in San Diego Light, sun and food Longing for the oceanPart of me still feels like I am on vacation when I make it.

It has summer written all over it.

In fact, it screams bright blue skies and sunny golden hues.

Encore un peu de salade?

Oui, avec plaisir…

Temecula, CA green patio The colors of summer Manhattan Beach California scenery, feet in the water.Ruby red, bold yellow, leafy green.

Summer in a plate.

A salty sweet combination to make and enjoy over and over.

There is just something light about it that reminds me of the feeling I had when eating at Fishing with Dynamite on Manhattan Beach.

I don’t know if it was the light, the space, the many bright windows or the food, but it was a delicious summer experience.

And eating this salad directly from the salad bowl with your feet up outside in the heat is also highly recommended.

Coast to coast from CA to MA Temecula vines Beautiful Georgetown in DCA perfect summer saladPeach and Tomato Summer Salad with Ginger Tarragon Vinaigrette

serves 6-8

2 lb (900 g) of ripe tomatoes – mix and match as much as you can – I use big red tomatoes, small red, yellow, and black cherry tomatoes

9 oz (255 g) of ripe peaches – cut in wedges

4 oz (115 g) of black olives

20 basil leaves – roughly chopped

4 Tbsp of olive oil

1 Tbsp of raspberry vinegar

1 teaspoon of mustard

1.5 teaspoon of maple syrup – or honey

1×1″ (2,5 cm x 2,5 cm) of fresh ginger – peeled and cubed

15 tarragon leaves

4 oz (115 g) of feta cheese – crumbled

a handful of pine nuts

freshly ground pepper

Cut, chop, slice the tomatoes to end up with a variety of different cuts: wedges, small slices, pieces, halves etc. I like to halve the cherry tomatoes and cut the bigger tomatoes in wedges.

In a big bowl, drop half of the tomatoes, peaches, black olives and chopped basil leaves. Keep the rest separate for now.

In a small food processor, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette: olive oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, fresh ginger and tarragon leaves.

Pulse until the vinaigrette is smooth, emulsified and the ginger and tarragon are well blended. Add more fresh ginger or tarragon depending on taste and strength of the herb.

Pour half of the vinaigrette over the salad in the big bowl. Mix delicately.

Add the rest of the tomatoes, peaches and black olives on top. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped basil leaves.

Sprinkle the salad with the feta cheese, pine nuts and ground pepper.

With a big spoon, add small dollops of the vinaigrette over the peach and tomato salad.

Put the left over vinaigrette in a pourer and serve next to the salad for extra helpings.

Georgetown lime house

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