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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Paris Part Two

One of the best things about Paris are the little boulangeries (bakeries) and patisseries (cake shops) everywhere. I could press my nose up against the window and salivate over the pastries, cakes, breads and little tarts all day! The closest I get to going to a bakery now is the odd visit to Borough Market... sadly for ease we pretty much buy fresh bread from our local mini supermarket, and it just isn't the same as the ritual of popping to the local bakery. 

Unfortunately the queue to get into Notre-Dame was humongous,  but we did get an eyeful of the French Gothic cathedral before shuffling off in the feather-light snow to find a coffee shop. 

On our last afternoon in the city, we paid a visit to Place des Vosges in the Marais district. Apparently the author Victor Hugo lived in the area (after a bit of research I discovered he wrote  Les Misérables, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). 

There's a lot of graffiti around Paris. Some of it isn't very attractive but there are the odd few which caught my eye. 

Next time we might go somewhere a little bit warmer for a long weekend, but we even found some palm trees to enjoy :) 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Paris Part One

This weekend Tomasz and I went to Paris, or "la Ville-Lumière" for a little break from London. We stayed in this cute hotel in the 13th arrondissement near China Town, which was clean and simple, with great service from all of the staff. 
Paris is very expensive so we had to be crafty and navigate the underground (dodging all of the tramps who sleep down there) and have the odd supermarket breakfast, but I'm so glad we went. 

Feeling French having a ciggie...
I knew the food was going to be incredible... but let me show you some of the fantastic delights we sampled. 

Charcuterie et Fromages  (meats and cheeses) and Camembert rôti au miel (baked Camembert cheese 

oozing with honey).

Succulent burgers and beef tartar (popular evidently), and the Parisians definitely know how to make their chips! Delish. 

Of course we visited the main sites and took some typical photos (we couldn't resist being tourists), but I found that just wondering around was the best thing to do (with some idea where we were going of course). 

Even though it was freezing it's really easy to spend hours meandering down the streets and river bank and darting in and out of the endless coffee shops. 

Even a simple ham and cheese toastie seemed to taste better in Paris. 
Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée (Onion Soup) is on practically every menu, and this one was particularly good. Full of rich beefy flavour and lashings of cheesy soggy bread. 

We didn't really have time to research too much before we went as we booked quite last minute, but it didn't matter, we had a trusty map, my passable French and our nose to guide us. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Kilis Kitchen

Named after the Turkish city, Kilis is a fabulous little gem we discovered on Sunday night after a swim in our local pool. Cosy dark wooden floors, exposed stone and brick walls and lots of lamps and big terracotta pots, this place already feels like it could be a favourite. 
The owner came out and greeted us, and the friendly but unimposing service continued through the evening. There was one girl who clearly couldn't speak much English, but I apparently I can speak fluent Turkish if I am hungry enough... 

They have an enormous menu of Turkish, Syrian and Lebanese food (don't let the sheer volume of choice put you off, but do order some of their warm "puffy bread" bread if you are famished so you can concentrate on choosing). 
If you do get there and the menu is just too much, then order the mixed meze - always a good option to get a taste of everything without all the faff of trawling. 
Trying not to be lazy, I ordered a bowl of mixed olives, and the stuffed vine leaves ("dolmas") with rice and pine nuts, all served with a dollop of natural yoghurt - this is served with a lot of Turkish food. 

Tomasz went for the King Prawns sautéed in garlic, chives and oil.   
The oven baked stuffed courgette, aubergine and pepper was a little too "vegetarian" for Tomasz, although it clearly had lots of minced beef in it and was I thought, extremely tasty, especially with the little jewel pomegranate seeds scattered across the plate...

My Kleftico was sublime. Soft and tender lamb shank falling off the bone with vegetables and rice, and all served on an Aladdin style silver dish. Now where are my three wishes....?

As seems to be the style with these sorts of restaurants, we got our bill in a little wooden box. Remember my post about the other Turkish place we went to? They did the same thing and I think it's a charming touch, but even more charming - all of this only came to £55. Bargain. 

Tomasz was very happy about this...

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