October 22, 2011

A day without chocolate is a day without sunshine

France is known for it's wine, cheese and baguette. Having grown up in Switzerland chocolate definatley doesn't spring to my mind when thinking of Paris. However, I have noticed there are great deal of chocolatiers throughout the city center. I have never dared to enter one for fear of not being able to find my way out again. When the Salon de Chocolate opened it's doors I was - needless to say - one of the first visitors to walk into the exhibition.

I did manage to eat my way through many different kind of tastes and textures of chocolate. It was amazing to see all the distinct ways of chocolate presentation. The Salon du Chocolat in Paris is the world's largest event dedicated to chocolate, a true trend-setter dedicated to the profession. Every year, the Salon is also dotted with special events, celebrations and performances. Some of them have become iconic such as the famous Chocolate Dresses Fashion Show.

 Ready, Set, Gooooooo.....

Sophisticated chocolate sculptures

French "pain au chocolat" in a 2m baguette


Latest craze in hot chocolate

Themed garbage bin

Chocolate jewllery for total addicts

Light switches... how cool is that?

"Tête de moine girolle" in chocolate version

A true chocolate stand

The real thing: Cocoa beans

Who said chocolate had to be brown?

My favourite Tour Eiffel

Arc de Triomphe

Carrying your dessert with you...

How did they do it?

Chocolate design for fashionistas

I'll have this pink dress decorated with chocolate balls

October 16, 2011

October 14, 2011

Paris is mine to discover

Ever since my GPS guided me right through the thick of the city rather than around the ringroad upon our arrival to Paris by car six weeks ago, I have been having serious doubts about this technological gadget of mine. I honestly think it gets lost between satellites or whatever it is that guides it up in space.

I was one of the die-hards refusing to let a machine tell me where to go. I mean, I hate people telling me what to do even at the best of times!

I broke down and bought a GPS because I figured if I'm gonna drive half way across Europe and back with the kids, it might be safer.

Well, it got me from Lugano to Madrid and from there to Paris but it doesn't seem to like the city?!? I don't know how many times I've wondered which turn to take while it keeps on repeating: recalculating, recalculating.

I might be old fashion but isn' it better to know where you're heading BEFORE you start your journey. Maps are great and Google Maps are outstanding. Studying your intinerary allows you to orient yourself. You walk around looking up at the signpost rather than having your head stuck in a machine while missing the sites. Therefore my dear GPS, either you shape up or I will......

October 11, 2011

An unusual place to blog

You read the free newspaper, you listen to street musicians, you give beggars a coin, you try to read more than half a page of your book, you observe the other passengers and try to guess where they are from OR you can blog!

Spending time every day on Paris' Metro - the fastest and most efficient way to get around the city- I have found that blogging is a perfect activity during the rather boring underground ride.

So, imagine that you are now reading a post written about 5 meters underground zipping from one end of Paris to the other.

And it all began on July 19, 1900 during the Universal Exhibition in Paris. A second class ticket cost 15 cents, 20 cents for a return ticket and 25 cents for first class. The first metro line connected "Porte Maillot" to "Porte de Vincennes" in 30 minutes. On opening day 30,000 tickets were sold.

Following is a promotional film about Paris and it's metro system from the 1950's:

October 9, 2011

Festival des fromages de Meulan

When in France, do as the French! With this in mind, we took a head dive into French culture by visiting the Festival des fromages in Meulan-en-Yvelines. Over 100 cheese producers gathered this weekend to prize their goods and turn the center of this little town into a cheese platter. I admit we did not manage to taste all 300 types of cheese.

A few cows and lots of sheep were also spotted along the way much to the kids' delight.

There was also a good deal of wine flowing in front and behind the stalls. It is impossible to enjoy true authentic cheese without a good glass of genuine wine!

La tartiflette au saumon fumé

Cheese in all shapes and forms

Can you smell the cheese?

Two happy Savoyards

This little village fête actually reminded me a great deal of home. The Ticino village fairs are usually celebrated during the grape harvest season where the authentic wine is served with genuine cheese. Either way, it was a chance to savour the moment by tasting La fourme d'Ambert, the Reblochon, the Munster, the Abondance, the Altenburger Ziegenkäse, the Pico, the l’Évora and the Gouda just to name a few.

Adventures are so much more fun when shared with others. On that note, I had rallied another two Italian families (remember my hubby's a true Italian) whom also had arrived in Paris this autumn in order to render this little outing more fun for the kids since they all know each other from school. Well, all I'll say is that our excursion ended with a big family meal in a nearby trattoria with lots of mozzarella cheese on top of our pizzas. Once Italian, always Italian! Buon appetito!

October 6, 2011

Baba Cool at the Comptoir Général

To be completely honest with you, the main reason I participated at Sunday's Cupcake event was its location: the Comptoir Général. Now, back home in Switzerland a "Comptoir Général" is usually quite a vintage-funky places to go, either for lunch or drinks and often for vernissages or exhibitions. I figured I'd see what it entails in Paris...

Therefore curiosity got the better of me and on a whim we were off with our cupcakes. What I discovered was what I was hoping for. First, I came across (literally) the Canal Saint-Martin area, a neighborhood nestled between Gare du Nord and République in Northeastern Paris, in the 10th arrondissement.

On Sundays, two streets running parallel to the canal, Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes, are reserved for pedestrians and cyclists—perfect for renting a bike and seeing the city from a fresh angle. Cafés and quirky boutiques flank the water and iron footbridges. I have discovered that Napoléon ordered the construction of the Canal Saint-Martin in 1802. It was originally built to link to the Canal de l'Ourq, further north, to supply fresh water to the city. The canal feeds into the Seine River in the South.

As for the Comptoir Général: under the glass roof of the bar, everyone talks to everyone. Imagine a mix between a Cuban Bar and Café Baghdad with the entrance of an colonial run-down Grand Hotel. Old trunks travel - witnesses of past decades - one end and a room full of witchcraft the other end. The word "Bohémian" doesn't even start to describe this place ... you need to see it for yourself!

Why not stroll down next weekend to try their baba-cool brunch with family and friends!

Le Comptoir Général, 
80 quai de Jemmapes, 75 010 Paris
Fridays to Sundays from 11am to 11pm
 Tél : 01 44 88 24 46

October 4, 2011

Cupcake delirium

Feeling terribly active since we've arrived in this big city and making the most of the endless choices of activies offered, I decided to have a Mummy-Daughter afternoon and join the Cupcake Camp invitation:

Feeling still a bit homesick Expat girl decided for some Swiss Carrot cupcakes, our favourite!

Boy, once again I had thoroughly underestimated Parisian lifestyle. 
We expected a fun, family-style, home-baking get-together.
We discovered a highly professional cupcaking business.
Take a look for yourself.

Category: My dream come true cupcake

Category: Most exoctic ingredients cupcake

Category: Autumn inspiration cupcake

more Autumn inspired cupcakes

Category: Kids' Party cupcakes

Category: Parisian cupcakes

more Parisian cupcakes


Expat girl's favourite

Expat girl's 2nd favourite!

Category: Flower Power cupcakes

Category: Fantasy cupcakes

The turn-out by the bakers was nothing less than spectacular.  We have never seen so many beautiful cupcakes assembled in one area – bravo!  Clearly the passion for cupcakes is alive and well in Paris.  The contests were brimming with amazingly decorated and creative cupcakes.

Time to devour our precious treasures.

Expat girl was very disheartened by how poorly our Swiss Carrot cake cupcakes presented themselves in comparison with all the others. I reassured her that the others might look impressive but ours were without a doubt the best tasting cupakes of the entire show. Together we also managed to raise over 6000 Euro for the "Make-a-wish" foundation.

The day was saved when Expat girl pulled out a lucky raffle ticket and won herself a Cook book!

Next year we will definately be back with some spectacular looking AND tasting cupcakes à la Suisse.... just you wait and see!

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