Tag Archives: Paris

Triple Focus Chocolate Mousse Cake, Restaurant of the Week and Mood Shots

L'Office
I give you pictures of my favorites from this past week. Triple Focus Chocolate Mousse Cake Chocolate mousse cake with a hint of rum and raspberries which I made. Focus 1: The view Focus 2: Cherry, my beloved plant that has been with me in Paris since day one Focus 3: My Chocolate Mousse Cake Restaurant of the Week L'Office 3 Rue Richer 75009 Paris Casual, contemporary and fresh. I'll let the photos speak for themselves. Mood Shots My food experience mood boards. I hope you enjoyed my top picks / pics from this past week! Love, Tala

The Seine, Birth of Dinner in the City, Food Rage and The Seine Again

Seine
With a dinner date with my ladies at 8:30pm, I arrive at the Seine at 7:00pm for some one on one time avec La Seine. With my back to the Seine, I can see the hustle and bustle of Paris city life, cars whizzing by, street performers showing off their talents and ever so fast pedestrians making their way from one side of Paris to the other. And with a 180 degree turn I see this: There is something about the Seine River that mesmerizes me - the true romance of Paris shines through. Is it lonely by myself? Not at all. Quality time by yourself in a beautiful location that allows you to get lost in your thoughts is something I would recommend to everyone. This may be one of my favorite spots in Pairs. With ten minutes to spare until dinner, I peel myself away from the Seine and run off to Jaja Restaurant in the 4th. (3 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie) My ladies arrive one by one and our orders are placed. The atmosphere at Jaja's is brilliant. Fresh is the word, large windows to let the sun in (remember it gets dark around 11pm), light-colored brick walls and greenery scattered throughout the restaurant. Our dishes arrive, visually speaking, they match the colorful and sunny atmosphere of the restaurant. Our starters, though not mind-blowing, are acceptable and playfully lead us to our main courses. Unfortunately this is where things take a turn for the worst. The rice in the muscle risotto is not cook properly and the freshness of the muscles are questionable. My grilled langoustine dish scarcely has four bites of meat to it and the remainder is greenery. Value for money, one my main criterion for a successful restaurant, is not met by a long shot. With my napkin carefully laid over the corps of my unsuccessful dish, we request that all our plates be taken away to free the table from any negative energy. So here we are, 4 women left with nothing but an unfinished bottle of wine and good atmosphere. What does that spell? Conversation, some laughs more conversation and some more laughs all around. With more than 5 restaurants visited together from the start of my stay in Paris, we realize that its time to make things official - we are women with traditional values at the end of the day. And so Dinner in the City is born! A group of four foodies dedicated to search high and low, near and far, utensils no utensils, luxurious to street food, good to even better, for Paris's best restaurants! I officially introduce to you my Dinner in the City Ladies (from left to right): Ruba, My Palestinian Princess aka Samantha for her free-spirited outlook on life. A passionate foodie who completed the Cuisine diploma at Le Cordon Bleu, is currently taking the Basic Patisserie Class with me and has a job lined up with a restaurant in Paris starting this fall. Ultimate dream: to own a restaurant which I CANNOT wait to dine at! Me aka Charlotte for constantly being in dresses (the flowy-er the better) and for being a hopeless romantic. Also a foodie with an ultimate dream of having my own bakery. Ghazaleh, the American Dream, aka Carrey for her unmatched story telling skills and beautiful curly hair. A second career foodie who completed the Cuisine Diploma in Cordon Bleu and who is currently working at one of Paris's most 'trendy' restaurants! I am obsessed with all her kitchen stories and random Asian related stories. Due to leave France in August to be with her hubby and continue her food career in the catering world. Thalita, the Brazilian Bombshell, aka Miranda for her words of reason. Also a second career foodie who completed her Cuisine diploma at Cordon Blue and is taking the Basic Patisserie class with me. Goal in life - a stress free quality life with food involved! With our wine bottle completely dried out and our tummies still half empty, we decided to take a stroll through the streets of Paris. While reflecting on our dinner, we officially coin Dinner in the City's first phrase, Food Rage. Food Rage (adjective): The feeling you get when you have an unsatisfying dinner and are left hungry. To combat Food Rage, you first need breath-taking scenery and something sinfully tasty that you can turn to at desperate times and in this case desperate hours (when most restaurants are closed). So back to the Seine we go, although this time I'm not empty-handed and I'm with the best company in Paris. Et voila picture perfect to end the night. Love, Tala

Baking, Eating and Seeing Through My Eyes in Paris

Pairs

Baking

The more you know, the more you realize you know nothing. – Socrates

There couldn't be a more poignant quote to begin the baking section of this post. The doors of my baking knowledge have been swung open. The more skills, techniques and recipes I take in, the more I realize how much there is to learn about French patisseries. Even with the awareness of how much I still need to learn, I'm in love with every second I bake.

Last weekend we were off on Saturday and Sunday, 2 whole days without baking, come Monday, I couldn't wait to get back into class and get my hands in some butter and vanilla.

Here is a small round up of what I have been baking:

My Favorite Chef / teacher at Cordon Bleu :D

Eating

Other than baking my priority in Paris is restaurants and food.

Dubai does a pretty good job of delivering on the big branded, glitzy restaurants therefore in Paris, I seem to be drawn towards the midlevel, semi casual, but Oh So Good restaurants that Dubai desperately lacks.

Because I am blessed with fabulous foodie locals with amazing recommendations I have yet to be disappointed with a restaurant.

LE BAR A HUITRES - 33 Boulevard Beaumarchais Paris

LE BISTRO DU PEINTRE - 116 Avenue Ledru Rollin Paris

LOIR DANS LA THEIERE - 3 Rue des Rosiers Paris

KING FALAFEL PALACE - 26 Rue des Rosiers Paris

FULVIO - 4 Rue du Poitou Paris

GONTRAN CHERRIER - 22 Rue Caulaincourt Paris

POILANE + MY PLACE

Seeing

I'm not a sight seeing type of girl. I believe that if you truly want to get to know the place you're in you should walk the its streets, speak to its locals and yes most importantly eat its food.

With that in mind, my sight seeing part of Paris will probably be limited to the Tour Eiffel and the Sacre Coeur mainly for their views. This is what I saw...

 

I hope you enjoyed seeing the ever so beautiful Paris through my eyes.

More to come soon... anywhere in particular you love in Paris that I must taste or see? Let me know!

Love,

Tala

The Day Before My Class Starts

Tuesday
I officially start class on Wednesday the 27th of June - tomorrow! So I decided, I have to take full advantage of my Tuesday. 11:00 Am I'm out the door and ready for breakfast and as usual, strawberries are involved. 11:30 Am Time for some downtown Saint Germain! I would equate downtown Saint Germain to downtown Soho in New York. Walking towards Saint Germain, I promise myself that only window shopping is to take place, because at the end of the day, I want to keep as much funds as I have possible for wining and dining in Paris rather than shopping, which I could easily do in Dubai. I have to mention how stunning the window displays are in Paris. Each more luxurious and more inviting than the next. I do pretty well, with regards to my pact, until I reach Ralf Lauren - gorgeous is all I have to say. Passing by that sore without walking in is next to IMPOSSIBLE. So yes I do go in and yes I do purchase something, but something small, just to quench my shopping hunger. Sunglasses, which I am in love with. Walking out of the store I notice a Ralf cafe decked with Ralf Lauren furniture so I say why not a juice in the sunshine? 1:00 pm Just out of curiosity, I begin to investigate how much it would cost me to hire someone to clean my apartment once a week. After discovering the hourly rate usually charged in Paris and a quick contemplation of making a career change right then and there, I am off to supermarket for some cleaning supplies. Usually at home in the food section of a supermarket, I am now left standing in uncharted territory, i.e. in front of the cleaning supplies. How many liters is my garbage can? Should I get powder, gel or capsules for my washing machine? And what type of broom should I get? In the end I purchase what sounds the strongest but also what smells the best. Walking back to my apartment, I have a Ralf Lauren retail bag elegantly draped on one shoulder and a bright orange broom lopped over the other shoulder. I do receive some smiles walking home with my orange broom up in the air, which I respond with the most elegant Bonjour I can muster up. 4:00 pm It's Champs Elysees time. Walking up and down the Champs is an energetic experience. Seeing all the different types of people, enjoying the restaurants and most importantly taking in the view. I wouldn't particularly do my shopping on the main strip of the Champs, getting down into the different avenues is where things get interesting. Roaming around one of the allies I stumble accord Hediard. As a huge fan of teas, it is a must see for me. Smelling the different types of teas and wondering how each flavor would taste with each dessert is a pleasure. In the end, I leave with a box of tea and a box of chocolate coated wafers to keep me satisfied until the usual dinner opening time of 7:00 pm. I find a lovely bench under a tree and open my Hediard bag. I usually don't crave food that is packaged but these are one of my favorites. Chocolate covering the thinnest wafer you can imagine. Edible in less than a second! Putin! I have to admit I am clumsy sometimes. If the streets of Paris weren't covered in dog number 1's and number 2's I swear I would have picked each one of these up and ate them. Alas back to Hediard for box number 2. 6:50 pm  When on the Champs and looking for something really comforting to eat I would recommend Relais de l'Entrecote. Yes, we do have one in Dubai, but alcohol is used to make the traditional sauce which is not present in the Dubai mix. At 6:50 pm (doors open at 7:00 pm) there is already a queue, filled not only with tourists but also locals mind you. As I stood nearly a block away from the door, I start to worry if I would get a place in the 7:00 pm seating. And I swear to you, I was the last one they let in. I park myself on the microscopic "two-seater" (more like half a seater) table outside and enjoy the weather, the meal and the view. Leaving - the line is still around the block. 10:00 pm Finally home. Some tea, chocolate wafers, blogging and some Mr. Propre. Tomorrow, class - Finally. Love, Tala  

My Saturday from Heaven

Saturday from Heaven
As I promised you in my previous post, Getting Started in Paris, after getting myself settled in, the first plan of action was going to be exploring Food! Lucky for me, I had a group of beautiful and very gracious locals to gear me in the right direction during the weekend. I can't wait until they come to Dubai so I can happily return the favor. This post could not be more rightfully named because I truly had a Saturday sent down from Heaven. All I did was please my taste buds from morning until evening. Lets Start With Breakfast For my first official breakfast in Paris, nothing would suffice other than a Bakery. And what bakery would be more poignant that one recommended by Chef Alain Ducasse? That's correct, none.  Therefore, off we went to Le Moulin De La Vierge. We selected a chocolate croissant, a mille-feuille, a baguette and strawberry jam. We parked ourselves on a bench and had our way with all the desserts. Ripping off a pice of the baguette and dunking it straight into the jam jar and biting into a mille-feuille like it was a sandwich is an experience I wish upon everyone. With a Couple of Kilometers Under Our Belt - Its Lunch Time As an institution in the Saint-Germain area and as the beautiful sun was out Bar De La Croix Rouge cafe was the lunchtime pick. Menus were not opened and choices were not made, as per strict instructions, what was to be ordered was the famous Saint-Germain dish with a plate of cheese. For once I was grateful for not making my menu selection because the Saint-Germain dish deliver on all aspects. Toasted brown baguette with a spread of buttery mustard under moist and tender roast beef , laid over a bed of mixed greens and sharp pickles. Pairing each bit with a slice of french cheese was key. To top up the meal, a decadent chocolate cake and a shot of espresso. From One to the Next In true Parisienne nature, after polishing off our meal we proceeded from one cafe (Bar de la Croix Rouge) to the next (La Palette). La Palette is chic, people watching cafe where I had my 6pm Rose wine while enjoying the sunshine. And Finally to Dinner  The Beef Club - a trendy new hotspot on the Paris scene where reservations are hard to come by. Our reservation was accepted by the manager only after agreeing that we would provide him with a written blow-by-blow rundown of the France Vs Spain game since he wouldn't be able to watch it. Props to my local friends who seem to have all the keys to the city. As the name stipulates, the main ingredient on the menu is Beef. We ordered a filet mignon steak with sides of mac and cheese, mushrooms and wedges and a hamburger. The Beef Club symbolizes a quintessential restaurant and exactly what is absent from the Dubai restaurant scene. A semi casual restaurant, with competitive pricing that deliveries creative and extraordinary food offerings. To End How did I sleep that night? If you must know, like a baby. Before I left to Paris, my mother worriedly advised me that I should eat well when I'm in Paris because of all the walking I would be doing. Mama - Don't worry, I'm eating more than well :) Love, Tala

Getting Started in Paris

Paris Getting Started
Bonjour All, I made it to Paris! First things first, getting myself aquatinted with the street and the apartment I'm going to be calling home for the next month. My street, Cherche Midi (Looking for Noon) is in the 6th arrondissement in Paris. Two critical things must be located before I proceed to exploring my apartment.  A produce shop, that will be used to constantly replenish my snacking material,  and a flower shop, that will be used to make my space more homey, fresh and lovely. The Produce shop is no bigger than a three meter corridor, although what the shop lacks in size it makes up in aromas, particularly strawberries. A sinfully sweet and irresistible summer smell that will, without a doubt, lead to a purchase no matter how strong willed you think you are. With a weakness for flowers, I leave the flower shop with 4 new friends, Loulou, Buba, Twilight and Cherry (Yes, I name my plants), that have a sole purpose of making me smile each morning. And now up two flights of stairs to my apartment to reach my ever so blue door which we push open to reveal Home. Large windows to let in the crisp Parisienne air and the sounds of the city. My dining table all ready to go. My spot where I'll have my tea each morning. (Loulou - yellow roses on the far window sill, Buba on the dining table and Twiligh and Cherry on the breakfast window sill) My mircro kitchen jam packed with all the essentials. My Bathroom with random faces. And my bedroom. With that, I have officially settled in. Next, you guessed it, FOOD! Love, Tala PS: Its 9 pm and the sun still has not set - wow!

Paris Baby!

Paris

If you haven't already noticed, I have a passion for everything food, but in particular, a strong attraction to desserts.

There is something romantic about desserts that I can't resist - it's a real expression of love. Baking and watching the pleasure on people's faces as they enjoy my sweet creations is my ultimate satisfaction.

Around a year ago, I decided to take my love for desserts to the next level and enroll myself into a one month intensive patisserie class at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Paris in June 2012. Why one year ago? Because thats how long it would take me to plan for my Paris trip. First things first, budgeting, thats where the banker in me kicked in. I constructed an excel file detailing how much savings I would need each month to make my trip happen. Shopping, traveling and big spending was out the window for one year. If thats not commitment to your passion, then I don't know what is. Second telling my family who couldn't have been more supportive of the idea! Third, telling my boss (I work at a bank) that I would be taking 36 full days off work to explore my passion of baking. After strategically waiting for the perfect time, I eased myself into his office and laid out my plan. After a long pause and an affirmation that I would take care of all my work before leaving, I got his blessing. Big love to him for supporting me not only as an employee but also as a person. With the green light from everyone and a plan of action in hand, Paris was officially mine from June 22nd to July 28th 2012! The pastry class I will be taking is the first of three levels of the full time Patisserie courses offered at Cordon Bleu called Basic Patisserie. Traditionally this course is offered over a span of 3 months.  Since I can't take 3 months off work, I enrolled myself in to the intensive 1 month course which translates into classes 6 days a week and 6 to 9 hours per day! Highlights of my course are: Introduction to French Patisserie, Doughs, Introduction to creams and fillings, Traditional Desserts and cakes, Classical techniques and decoration, Masking and glacage, Introduction to yeast doughs (croissants and brioches) and French Patisserie terminology. I know I'm going to be jumping out of my bed each morning to get to class.

Believe it or not, I've never been to Paris. Meaning my trip will not only be about developing my culinary skills but also about exploring life in Paris. Endless cafes, bakeries and restaurants to explore, farmer's markets, night life, parks, shows, shopping, walking around, food, food, wine, more food, and just being Parisienne. Pastry classes by day and Paris by night.   Where will I stay? I have rented a beautiful one bedroom apartment which I will call home for a month that is one stop from Le Cordon Bleu and one stop from Down Town Saint Germain. It has a very comfy sofa bed in the living room for anyone stopping by Pairs, just FYI. :) Who do I know in Pairs? Absolutely no one! I plan to go for new experiences on a 360 degree level. My own version of Eat Pray Love! Im going to get lost in Paris and rediscover myself after 27 years of being me. It would be my pleasure to invite you to join me on my trip. I will be blogging about all my experiences in Paris, the good, the bad, the sweet, the salty, the beautiful, the tough, the luxurious but mostly the tasty! Next time we speak I'll be in Paris. A très bientot. Love, Tala