Category Archives: breakfast

Top 10 favorite eats in Paris

Mr. F and I really maximized time in Paris by prioritizing our meals and getting personal recommendations that we cross referenced with Eater, Trip Advisor, and Yelp. Here are my top 10 favorite dishes from our 9 days in Paris.

10. Fresh crepes and croissants for breakfast every day at our spectacular Hotel du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe Paris. I adored eating all the decadent pastries and having all the sweet breakfast options possible.  I’m so very thankful to have been my company’s North American representative and participate in such a dynamic discussion based conference.

9. Macarons at Pierre Hermé A good college friend recommended going to Pierre Herme over Ladurée and turns out, this is a popular French opinion too. I appreciated that Pierre Herme was slightly less expensive and I didn’t have to wait in a 10 + person line. There was also a store within a 10 minute walk from our hotel on the Champs-Élysées.  I got one of each flavor and my favorites were the Mogador (milk chocolate and passion fruit, on the top row, second from the far right), Huile d’Olive a la Mandrine (olive oil with mandarin orange, top row, furthest right), and Arabesque (apricot and crunchy pistachios, top row, second from the far left).

8. Escargot at L’Huîtrier.   I had to have snails in France and these were delicious! They were swimming in butter and a small amount of pesto. I was surprised that escargot were not on more menus so I’m glad I had, at least one chance to have them, in Paris.  However, we were super intimidated by the palm sized oysters (I guess we’re spoiled by the half dollar sized WA and BC ones?)

7. Beef bourguignon at Restaurant Joséphine Chez Dumonet.     We asked the concierge for a traditional French restaurant for beef bourguignon and they readily recommend this restaurant. The portions were huge and the service was excellent and we had the best time. Each dish was perfection and the beef bourguignon was the best we had ever had, by a significant margin! (I also tried mille feuille, just for the experience, and I was a little turned off by the pigeon served rare. However, when in Paris, one must try the local specialties!)

6. Soufflé at L’Atelier Etoile de Joël Robuchon This passion fruit soufflé was elegant and delicious especially since it was paired with passion fruit sorbet! It was sweet and refined, and was a treat to the eyes and palate. It melted on your tongue with the perfect amount of tartness.

5. Grand Marnier Soufflé at Restaurant Joséphine Chez Dumonet. This almost tied with the previous soufflé  but was slightly better because it was massive, even more fluffy, but not overwhelming. To me, this is what a soufflé should look and taste like, and it was the perfect size to split with my husband.

4. Steak frites at Les Oreilles et la Queue was the phenomenal start to our Paris week, especially since  I was starving after traveling and it was hard to find a lunch place open on sunday. The french fries were perfect and the lemon mousse was magnifique!  

3. Macon-Bussieres Les Clos (white burgundy) at L’Avant Comptoir. This tapas bar with a French flair had the best wine and eats of our whole trip. It was so fun to pick what you wanted from the hanging signs. We had other favorite dishes but this place had the most concentrated quality, by far.  (Not to mention, they served whole artichokes, which is one of my most favorite vegetables!) Mr. F loved the caramelized fennel too. 

2. Blood sausage macaron from L’Avant Comptoir. This may sound really weird but it tasted amazing. The sausage was fully cooked and not runny and the macron was a slightly sweet crispness that made the combination sing.   This was such a different and fun experience that it deserves a separate rating than the other dishes at this tapas bar.

1. The Foie gras amuse bouche at L’Atelier Etoile de Joël Robuchon. (French translation of amuse bouche, is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre.) It was perfectly foamy and well balanced. It was approximately two bites and in a shot glass. To me, this is a classic French appetizer  and one of the best things about French cuisine. This was wonderfully executed and a delight to eat. We also really enjoyed watching the kitchen during our meal and it definitely contributed our fantastic food experience.

As you can tell, it was hard to chose only 10 favorite foods from Paris, so I had to include a few extra favorites. I’m so happy that Mr. F was able to join me for my work conference and that we were able to make the best of the trip by having romantic dinners every night.

Our last morning in Paris

On Monday, we had a last lovely breakfast at our amazing five star hotel,  with one last cappuccino and helping of crepes, before climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a view of Paris. The 284 stairs were windy and since we were under a time crunch to get to the airport before noon,  we nearly ran up the stairs. Fortunately, we went when it opened so there were not too many tourists on the stairs, yet! While catching our breath, we enjoyed taking a few last photos with the Eiffel Tower.   I’m so glad it was a sunny morning! Plus, it was much easier going down the 284 steps!  Spring has definitely arrived in Paris and as our taxi pulled away from the hotel, we saw cherry blossoms on nearly every street.

 While waiting in security, Mr F and I noticed that the Charles de Gaulle airport ceiling looks like a wine barrel, or that it’s made with reclaimed wood. We didn’t spend much time in the airport and went straight to our gate. We were fortunate to have a direct flight from Paris to Seattle. It was 10 hours of movie time along with a little napping, reading and eating!

I can’t believe we’re already home. Customs was a breeze since we have Global Entry so it was like any other US flight with maybe a little extra walking. We also haven’t had to deal with any jet lag after our trip since we got in at 5pm and basically went to sleep early after checking on the kitties.

Lily and Lyra are also so happy we’re home.


A sunny Saturday in Paris!

 On Saturday, we met our college friend, Megan, and her family on Rue Cler after a lovely breakfast. Our walk across the Seine and past the Eiffel Tower was picture perfect.    The weather was sunny and the temperature was cool but the best for walking all over the city. Rue Clear was filled with flowers, fresh food, and so many sights!  Our first stop was the merry go round in the Champs de Mars in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.    Megan’s adorable little girl was enchanted and her joy was infectious!    We leisurely walked along the Seine to the Musee d’Orsay. Megan’s two girls fell asleep on the way there!   We loved the Musee d’Orsay and enjoyed this curation immensely, especially the Renoir and Degas.   The former train station turned Museum building was stunning and it was fun looking for the polar bear statue, Pompon.    Maeve was such a good sport and told us to leave her at the end. She wanted to stay there!  We also loved this book in the gift shop, which hides the polar bear statue in all the famous art throughout the Musee d’Orsay.  After an outdoor lunch in the jardin de Tuileries, we took the metro to Sacre Couer. Megan helped us with the tickets and directions since she’d been to Paris several times before, including in the last month.   The Sacre Couer was super crowded however, we appreciated the view from the hilltop overlooking Paris.   Mr F and I even walked by the Moulin Rouge on our walk to dinner!   For  dinner, we went to an oyster bar, a short walk from our hotel.   We had delicious escargot and French fries too. We were too intimidated by the French oysters because they were palm sized and we were used to the smaller Washington sized oysters! We were tired after walking 11 miles on Saturday so we were happy to go to bed by 10pm! I can’t wait to tell you about Sunday, my favorite day and experiences in Paris!

A Wednesday and Thursday in Paris

This week’s kaizen conference was filled with tons of information, dynamic discussion and great food. I love that kaizen is Japanese for change for the better. My Wednesday and Thursday work days were long but filled with amazing food at our five star hotel. The breakfast buffet is phenomenal. I love having crepes everyday.    Plus, the conference lunches were three course affairs with delicious desserts and amazing presentation! 

On Wednesday, Mr F made a fun dinner reservation in the Le Marais neighborhood, at Cafe Breizh. It was a 50 minute walk so we took a cab instead. We did not realize that 7pm was Paris rush hour but fortunately our reservation wasn’t given away, even though we arrived 30 minutes late!

This wonderful creperie was recommended by college friends. I really enjoyed the savory crepe with eggs, bacon and lovely gruyere cheese. Mr F got a sausage crepe (turns out it was tripe so it was super smokey tasting) with salad on top. We both loved the crepe Suzette and ginger sweet crepes.  Thurday’s meeting was again over 10 hours straight, so I was so happy that we were able to grab a cab and see another part of Paris for dinner. This time we went to Montparnasse for traditional French food, at Josephine, Cafe Dumont.  We had boeuf bourguignon and also pigeon! We really enjoyed the soufflé for dessert too!! It was one of our most favorite meals in Paris!

Our second and third day in Paris

We woke up leisurely to catch up on sleep and had a fabulous hotel breakfast on Monday. I only had one free hour before my conference started, so we went to the Arc du triomphe for more up close pictures and then my number one priority was to get macarons from the highly recommended Pierre Herme!

The conference was dynamic, small and fun. It was full of lively discussion. After 5:30, I met Mr F for a walk to the Eiffel Tower and we arrived in time to see the lights turn on! We then walked to meet my team at L’Atelier Renault. There were about 30 of us!

Tuesday was much more work oriented and jam packed with discussion and LEAN training. It was an intense day that started at 8am and went until 6pm! Fortunately, Mr F made reservations at a Michelin starred restaurant nearby based on a colleague’s suggestion and it was an amazing end to the day. We went to L’atelier de Joel Robuchon near on Champs-élysées which was a quick 15 minute walk. Mr F met me in lobby at 6:15 and we went straight to dinner. Since I was dragging due to jet lag, it was fantastic to walk outside and immediately eat dinner. We arrived before the typical Parisian dinner hour so we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. The amuse bouche before the 3 course prix fix menu was a foamy foie gras that was utterly delightful with fresh bread. We loved our appetizers of chicken tartine and sole carpaccio.  Our entrees were also fantastic of steak and grilled fish. The presentation was stunning and tasty!  Mr F and I both agreed to get the passion fruit soufflé  so we didn’t have to share and it was a stunning and lovely displayed dessert. The soufflé was light and fluffy and served with passion fruit sorbet! The best part was we were done eating by 8:30 and asleep by 10! It was so nice to go to bed to early after a long day. While I was in the conference, Mr F walked over 10 miles! We were exhausted!

Two weeks ago, we left Lucca, Tuscany!

We got back from Italy two weeks ago and it’s hard to believe it! Our favorite meals and part of our trip was in Lucca.

On our last day of vacation, we explored more of Lucca. We had a wonderful breakfast buffet in our bed and breakfast, La Romea14463168_805680962212_8088265215643267060_n made by the host’s mother. Our host suggested another great restaurant for lunch too.

First, we went up the nearby Torre Guinigi (a tower with trees on top) to see Lucca from up above before 14479632_805681860412_1504338499767170563_n  touring the Cathedral of San Martino and walking the walls around the town.  14440935_805684574972_8415438116148072558_n Inside San Martino, there’s the “Sleeping Beauty” tomb that is so beautiful, there’s an urban legend that single ladies rub the nose for good luck, and in hopes of meeting their future husbands. 14462890_805684684752_7313612262319336910_n I liked the painted ceilings, especially over the altar. 14370101_805684704712_8797992724567790587_n 14390710_805684859402_3542697954917504580_n

For lunch, we had an amazing Tuscan feast at Trattoria da Ubaldo. In this goth, rock and roll styled restaurant, 14469682_805685792532_1404321614716240668_n we had delectable chick peas 14457289_805685897322_559927644705074898_n and peppers, as well as the traditional Lucchesi dish, tordelli, 14470436_805685852412_7526009934855775682_n which is similar to ravioli. The owner looked exactly as he does on the menu and 14484656_805685847422_6275614827224872831_n the wine bottle label! He totally looked like a gothic biker, pirate!

14469472_805837857792_6017284883593105659_n On our circuit around the town, we saw a beautiful botanical garden 14448882_805837897712_3162007815470796516_n and decided to walk in.  14462967_805838207092_4551838483463686280_n Inside, there were many local plants, greenhouses with succulents, and ponds with lily pads. 14440614_805685567982_4622342709753261333_n

In the late afternoon, we left Lucca, by bus back to Pisa, to fly home. It was a great way to see more of the countryside! 14470548_805838935632_2705827509478271328_n We arrived in London after 9pm so we decided to get a good night’s rest instead of going into the city, since we had been on our feet all day around Lucca.

14492353_805839150202_7879508549621896522_n Our flight from London to Seattle went smoothly, including having global entry and making customs a breeze. We bypassed nearly a thousand people in line, with our global entry pass and got in a super short three person line. The whole process from getting off the plane to getting my parent’s car, took only 10 minutes. Global entry was the best purchase we made on our vacation. I highly recommend it to everyone and it also includes TSA pre-check!

The most comical part on our return, is that we had to hike into our neighborhood, when my parents dropped us off! The city was resurfacing our street, so my parents had to drop us off two blocks from our house. It was a rather fun and ironic way to end our vacation!

Top 10 Cinque Terre Tips

1. Visit each of the 5 towns and note the differences! My recommended order is Monterusso, Vernazza, Riomaggore, Manarola then Corneglia, going from busiest to most relaxed towns. The train and water taxi are priced similarly, so I recommend both options.

Riomaggiore from the water taxi

Riomaggiore from the water taxi

2. Move base camps, staying a few nights in each town, in addition to day tripping to Portoverne, by water taxi. We adored our Aria di Mare room with a patio in Manarola. 14390675_804617398602_7290652896719854642_n I highly recommend staying here. 14364723_804614519372_425347319447043177_n

3. All the vino bianco (house white wine) is shockingly good, but consider  14448808_805287730252_6734439248593193465_n    splurging on the single vineyard Cinque Terre white wines, to try the difference. img_7183 While in Vernazza, try the Vineria Santa Marta. They have 3 Cinque Terre wines in their tasting and the brushchetta is wonderful too!

4. Try the fresh anchovies, since it’s a regional specialty, however, it’s unlikely to win you over canned anchovies, if you’re not a fish person.

5. At most restaurants, pasta is the supreme choice and secondi (entrees) are not given as much priority or presentation. You must try the spaghetti al pesto 14370356_805020231322_3483084539749973574_n and if you’re adventurous, try the spaghetti nero (squid ink black pasta with seafood!) img_6934  We thought the best presentation was at Trattoria dal Billy in Manarola.

(Side note: it would be very difficult to be gluten free and eat well in Cinque Terre, unless you exclusively ate seafood and only had coffee for breakfast.14333730_805277545662_769157491905239618_n I rarely saw fruit and yogurt as an option for breakfast. Eggs are not an Italian thing.) 14364803_805277500752_5380460152359192664_n

6. Always try restaurants off the beaten path and with more Italians than tourists eating inside. We had a great experience at Osteria Baracco, near Cinque Terre in Portoverne, and were super happy we ordered in Italian! 14354896_805287680352_4137932634649450375_n

7. Try stuffed mussels and all the fresh seafood that you can! 14441082_805288848012_2342129749336324368_n

8. Swim in the Ligurian Sea especially in Monterusso and Manarola! Bonus points for swimming in all 5 towns! We swam in 4 of the 5 since Corneglia isn’t directly on the water but one could swim near the train station.

9. Hike between at least two towns. We hiked between Manarola, Volestra and Corneglia and it was a vigorous hike for us, with our 35-40 lb backpacks. 14292251_805018390012_6046303426147600117_n Via Della Amore between the towns was closed but I hear this is a less strenuous hike and shorter too!

10. If you’re busy and you want lunch on the go, the Ligurian region is the birth place of focaccia. It’s thinner and more varied than anything I’ve had in the US! We frequently grabbed a focaccia with different toppings, or piece of pizza mid-day, or for a snack! 14390937_804614788832_5608074694926474075_n