Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hello everybody and Merry Christmas Eve to you all! I know I've been showcasing my photos from Paris lately but I thought it was only appropriate to [finally] make my Christmas Market post I promised a little while back. So here are the photos from the Christmas Market in Gendarmenmarkt!
Also read to the end for some exciting news and to figure out where Part I is!

The entrance was very pretty as was the large Christmas tree!

Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt Part II

Monday, December 23, 2013

I don't know about you but I love grocery shopping in foreign countries. Seeing what locals eat is like the key to becoming them for a few days. I always want to be French in France, Italian in Italy, Japanese in Japan, and well, the only places that don't apply are Germany and America because I feel like I've exhausted my need to be either by now. =3=

Oli and I bought a few things to cook dinner. Of course Oli wanted burgers! And naturally I wanted salad. Ha ha.

Paris in Snaps V

It was after the food poisoning that I was battling my desire for trying new things with my actual need for comfort. My friend and host Sophie told me that I should go to Rue Saint Anne near the Pyramides Metro stop because there I can find many Japanese restaurants and shops. I did just that and found Aki, a restaurant which also has a Boulangerie (bakery)!

The chalkboard menu outside is super cute!
Alas I only got a Onigiri (riceball) with sour plum. It felt good to eat rice . . . 

The place was very popular and there was a good mix of French and Japanese people. They also had lovely looking bentos but they all had meat and it made my stomach do back flips. If you are ever in Paris and looking for some Japanese food, go down this street! And look for Aki!

Paris in Snaps IV

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Finding the right bakery can be hard sometimes. There's so many and all you want is a flaky pastry right now~! It's easy to just buy one anywhere but guaranteed most of the time it's a disappointment. Sometimes you do luck out and find one that's really good. A tip may be to look for one marked Artisan because it means they make it in house!

Paris in Snaps III

The French love their cheese SO FRIGGIN MUCH! I do too but after a week of cheese, I didn't want anymore! The one good thing is that many French people like to go to their respective providers for their food so a Fromagerie can be found on many streets. You can also buy top notch stuff at a Farmer's Market (ask them for samples and they will provide!)

Paris in Snaps II

Welcome to Paris in snaps! I will post a few pictures of Paris in snaps, the way I did last year. A few things I will write out more extensively, but look forward to seeing how I spent my time in Paris!

Oli and I eating out of brown paper bags our Parisian Pastries.

Paris in Snaps I

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hello everybody, I'm back from a small hiatus! I just want to clue you all in on what's been going on.

I recently took a trip out to Paris and although I had internet access there, I was with Oli and I didn't really want to make any full updates. I just wanted to go out and enjoy the vacation. What ended up happening instead was that he got food poisoning and two days later, so did I! It was really really awful. Every time I thought about food, I got nauseous, and I was taking a few different kind of pills every few hours to make the symptoms go away.

I am feeling better now but I still can't eat the way I was eating. I'm taking it easy by eating mostly fruits and vegetables and soups.

On that note, I haven't forgotten about the blog. I'm just really stuck in a rut lately. There's a lot of things I want to do and projects I want to execute but I also find myself lacking the enthusiasm. I guess with most things, it's a mental problem. I've been doing some breathing exercises/meditation to clear my brain out a bit but since my health has been so poorly and there's always some legal situation I have to take care of with my visa here, I find myself being kind of negative and I don't want to transfer that onto the blog.

You can expect some updates from me about Paris in the coming days. They will be food related and then my travel photos will actually be somewhere else, which I will explain later as well.

Anyway, I just wanted to write this out to explain why I haven't been so present. Thanks for the all the support as always and stay tuned for more soon!

A little update!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hello lovely people! I'm here in Berlin just trying to squeeze in a little post before I go off to Body Attack class. Can I just say how exhausting that class is? There's barely any time to rest and it's full on cardio mayhem! The first time I took it, we were doing all the things I hate but is really effective (lunges, squats, push ups, etc.) and I thought to myself Gee, at least we're not doing Burpees. Then during the next song, we totally did Burpees! It's like the instructor knows how to torture me. Fortunately, it's really helping balancing out the ridiculous amount of sweets I'm eating this time of year.

For example, who can say no to Stollen or Dominosteine (Domino Stones) when you're in Germany?

The stollen was super yummy and something I often think I should bake on my own. Then I realize it wouldn't be good because I would just eat the whole loaf by myself. Again, I am a monster with sweets.

Also this is how the winter here is starting to look like:

Went for a wee bike run and basically all I saw were grey clouds. Oh how welcoming you are Brandenburg (note the slight bit of sarcasm there).

Also we got our first bottles of Glühwein to drink! It literally means "Glow Wine" and it is hot wine mixed with holiday spices (things like orange peels, cinnamon, and nutmeg). It's very popular at Christmas Markets (which you will see in a future post), and it's also sold in grocery stores this time of year.

I love the festive labeling!

Last but not least, I went a little crazy with the holiday goodies to send to my family back in NY. This is the bulk of it and I'm also including a few other things I think my mom would enjoy. It's basically just a nice thank you package for the holidays because I think they would quite enjoy trying some treats that are a bit more rare in NY (for example, there is Haribo and Ritter Sports and Bahlsen back home but not the flavors I'm sending them). I hope that they don't see this but on the off chance they do, just know that not everything is revealed here.

So that is it for today! I don't know if you like seeing these "What I ate" type posts but I think it's fun to see some of the more German things I've been putting into ma belly. I think I should also do a recipe post soon but for now, have a happy happy Sunday and I talk to you soon!

German Sweets and Glowing Wine

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hello lovely people and welcome to December! It's been quite a busy week for me the past week. Mainly looking around for gifts but also applying for health insurance here in Berlin. I swear the receptionist knows me by face now because I'm constantly there and this ridiculousness that every time I go, the person I spoke to the last time is not there because they are on holiday. Well, it's all settled now and now it's time to focus on other more fun things.

First things first, Nikolaustag. What is Nikolaustag? Well in Europe on the 5th of December, there is Nikolausabend (Nicholas Evening), where children put out their boots (Oli told me after they've been cleaned) so St. Nicholas will drop by and fill it with treats and gifts. Then on December 6th, the official day, the children wake up to the goodies in their shoes. St. Nicholas is also accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, who is said to be a sort of demon that plays tricks on the children if they are not good. I just wanted to mention all of this because it is tonight and even if you're not in Germany or Europe, if someone you know has been a sweetheart, maybe you can surprise them with a bag of sweeties in their shoes.

Now on to my review of Cha no Ka! Cha no Ka is a green tea sandwich cookie made in Kyoto, Japan. Here is an official photo:

My mother just recently got a hold of some of these cookies through work and she sent me a box along with a few other things in a recent package. So here is my first impression and review!

First off, adore the box. The Japanese really put a lot of effort into presentation. It would also be nice to re-use the box maybe for small things or cover it in wrapping paper for gifting.

It's recommended to eat them as soon as possible and be kept under 28 degrees C. The cookie itself is a crispy butter cookie with white chocolate in between. If you love the taste of green tea, this is a definite winner! It's just the right amount of sweet from the white chocolate to balance out the bitterness of the matcha flavor. Having just one is really hard so I suggest if you ever get some of these to put the lid back on as soon as possible so you don't eat them all.
It's a short review but I thought it would be nice to share my experience with something a bit more exotic than Teddy Grahams or Pepperidge Farm. Happy Thursday everyone!

Leading up to Nikolaustag and Cha no Ka Review

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

To be honest, I have no idea what it feels like to be French in Berlin. I have met French people in Berlin. Usually they sound something like this:

"Oh, I thought I left France. Why are there French people everywhere?"
"Life is too short to learn German."
"Men here don't buy women drinks."

Oh, how I love the French.

Anyway, I recently took a trip out to a cute French bistro with my friend Pavel. Pavel and I know each other from Trader Joes (if you live in NY and do TJ's, you may have seen me stocking shelves), and clicked because I have this horrible obsession with people with smooth skin that I have to touch them. So that's where it all began and on this evening, it ended with a happy belly full of warm comforting food.

The place is called L'Origine du Monde and is located in Friedrichshain. The decor is very cozy: beige walls, wooden tables, and chalkboards. The menus are handwritten as well. The music bounced around classic rock to movie soundtracks.

If you look at the menu on their homepage, the items listed are quite different from what we saw. I think a lot of the items are changed daily or weekly depending on what they get. I like that because it shows a dedication to fresh ingredients but it's also unfortunate when you like something and it's not there.

Octopus Chorizo Soup

Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimp

Roasted Duck with Peach Sauce and Potato Gratin

The flavors were great and everything complimented each other on the plates. My only complaint might be the texture of the octopus and duck as both were slightly tough. Anyway, I really recommend it. The waiter was pleasant and friendly and the food came in timely manner. We were definitely stuffed after our meal.

Gubener Straße 41 Berlin
030 53155629

Being French in Berlin

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hello beautiful people, I am back with a Share it Saturday!

A small share but I'd like to post some of my old photos from Prague. Prague is one of those European towns you dream about: great views, colorful houses, random food stalls, and clean metro stations. I've been twice and both times were great--just walking around really gets you inspired. If you haven't been, now you can see why!

These photos were taken in the Winter time. It looks warm but trust me, depending on when you go, it can get really cold!
I hope you enjoyed my post. Look forward to a more lengthy update soon!

Share it Saturdays No. 4 ft Prague

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hello guys! Sorry I've been so inactive on the blog. I am well aware I missed the Share it Saturday last Saturday. I've been feeling rubbish lately because I have painful dry skin on my face right now. It's not a lot but it's around my mouth and it burns when I try to treat it with creams and oils. I guess I'll have to make a trip to the doctor but I'm lacking health insurance so I'm a bit blue right now.

Okay but enough sad news and onto some food pics from last week/this week:

I don't know if you know this but I am all about the curry. I don't care if it's a strange interpretation of curry. If it ends in "curry", chances are it can't be that bad. Here I made some curried rice with tofu, zucchini, and onions. Super simple and yummy.

Then last Friday, Oli invited his friends over for burgers and movie night.

The next day he made more with leftover ingredients, including a mini-B.

Oli loves fast food (pizza, burgers, fries, döner kebab, you name it) and I'm always telling him he's fattening me up. So as a joke, he made a big burger for himself and a tiny burger (sandwiched between two baguette pieces) for me! Haha, I laughed it was so cute.

Then today I met up with my friend Lara and we went to Transit Restaurant in Mitte.

I wasn't feeling too hungry so I got just one of their little plates (usually you get a bunch with people and share) and a "Against Cold" tea. The tea was yummy (ginger, lemon, and honey never fails), and the squid salad was also very good! It was a daily special so not sure if you can get it if you decide to go, but I've heard the papaya salad is also top notch. The prices are average for Berlin and the waitresses are all really dolled up too (not because they have to I think but they had full-on makeup and false eyelashes, which is quite rare to see in Berlin since everyone is so bare all the time). Anyway, I recommend it and I would go again for sure!

Finally, a small purchase at Primark.

I don't shop at Primark so often but for lounge things like this, I go crazy! I have a pair of pink slip-ons but since it's getting colder, I wanted something that would cover my ankles. These are perfect because of the cushion on the bottom and the fuzzy lining, plus I love anything flannel.

So that's about it for today. Hope you enjoyed reading and have a nice Wednesday!

Transit Restaurant and Primark Booties

Monday, November 18, 2013

1. Anna Verdina Karnova Flickr
2, 3, 4. Cake Stuff Tumblr
5. Julicious Flickr 

Sweeties Galore

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hello party people, how are you today?

I'm catching up on America's Next Top Model Cycle 20. I don't watch every season but once in a while I tune into one and keep up with it. I'm not too crazy about the contestants on this cycle . . . as always there's a lot of unnecessary drama and people that get emotional way too easily. So in the case of this season, I don't really care who wins. I'm mainly in it for the fashion!

Speaking of fashion, I did take a trip out to Humana to see if anything could be added to my wardrobe. Humana is a huge thrift/second hand chain here in Berlin. There's usually one in every or most neighborhoods. The biggest one I know is at Frankfurter Tor so I took a train out to good ol' Friedrichshain to check out the selection.

Here is my morning snack!

Alpro is a company that produces plant based "dairy" products. This one is a blood orange flavored soy yogurt. They are really tasty and perfect as a snack.

I also pulled out the blue eyeshadow.

Thrift Shopping and Hefeklöße

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I love food blogs. I think it goes without saying people who blog food love to drool over other people's recipes and photos. This is how I found Alissa's blog Connoisseurus Veg.
I was on Tastespotting one day and clicked on a recipe she had posted. Since then I've been eyeing her recipes like Charlie eyeing Wonka Bars in the candy shop, except I feel less guilty because her recipes are veg and full of wholesome ingredients!
I contacted her immediately and we set off to do a collaboration. Since we're in the fall season, we decided it would be best to use an autumn ingredient. I had seen Persimmons (or Kaki as the Japanese and Germans call it) around the Farmer's Markets and thought it would be perfect!

I always associate Persimmons with Japan because as a kid, my father sometimes brought home dried persimmons which are a well known Japanese snack. I decided to go with that and instead infuse it in the batter of another one of my father's favorite sweets: Dorayaki. Except of course I put an extra spin on it and made it vegan and gluten free.

A few tips on preparing this batter:

-Keep the Dorayaki moist after cooking because the gluten free and vegan batter tends to dry a bit faster. You can either cover them or wrap them individually in plastic wrap.
-The consistency of the batter should be like pancake mix. If it's a bit thick after letting the batter set, mix in a bit more water or vegan milk.
-I find it tastes best slightly warm after making!

The Dorayaki is the perfect amount of sweetness and the persimmon gives it just the right note at the end.

Anko (Sweet Red Bean Filling)
3/4 cup of azuki beans
2 - 2 1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup sugar

Put beans and just enough water to cover the beans in a pot. Bring to a boil and then discard the water to get rid of bitterness. Now measure out new water and pour over the beans and bring to a boil once more. Once boiling, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. The beans will be soft yet firm. Drain out the excess liquid and put it back in the pot. Add the sugar and stir on medium high heat for about 10-12 minutes until it forms a chunky paste. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool.

 Vegan and Gluten Free Persimmon Dorayaki

Serves 5
1 cup gluten free flour
(I got the flour as a gift but please feel free to use any blend you're comfortable with. A recommendation would be 1/2 cup Sorghum, 1/4 Cup Tapioca, and 1/4 Cup Almond)
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 tablespoons ground flax seed + 6 tablespoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 ripe persimmon (medium size) + 1/2 cup water

Put in a bowl the sugar, flour, and baking powder and mix it all together until it's well combined. In a small cup, mix together your ground flax seed and water to make the flax "egg". Set it aside so it has time to become gel-like. Now wash your persimmon and stick it in a blender with the water (you don't need to cut the persimmon if it's ripe enough, however I did it for show). Blend until the mixture is smooth and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix your batter and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes uncovered to rest.

Towards the end of the 20 minutes, heat your stove up to medium low heat. Make sure your pan is well heated before coating it with cooking spray or oil. Then take out your batter and make a pancake about 3 inches in diameter. Cook on one side until bubbles form (about 2-3 minutes) then flip and cook for another 2 minutes. At this point, you can check if the middle is cooked by pushing the center with your spatula and seeing if batter comes out of the sides. If it doesn't, great! If it does, just cover and let it sit for another minute or two. Transfer to a plate to cool and cover with a damp towel.

When all the pancakes are done, set up a sandwiching station. Take one pancake, put enough Anko in the center so there is about 1/2 inch around the edges, place another pancake on top, and press the sides to seal. Do the same for all and you're left with a pretty platter of Dorayaki!

Please also check out Alissa's lovely and savory take on Persimmons! She takes such lovely photos of her food and when she sent me a picture of her dish (an avocado and tempeh salad with persimmon sauce just to give you an idea), I was instantly hungry!

Happy baking and ciao everyone!

Dorayaki Recipe and Collaboration with Alissa of Connoisseurus Veg