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    Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    Paris on a Monday in June

    So Monday
    Woke up to a grey day looked out the window, we overlook a courtyard.
    Not much happening there. Found a great little café across the road, Le Metro.

    Ordered breakfast. Coffee, Bread or croissant, orange juice and an omelet. 22 euros for two Not bad, found out they have wireless. That is great, as the wireless in the flat won't work. Quickly went back and got my computer and checked the mail. This will be handy.

    Went wandering around our area.
    We are situated in the Latin Quarter, not far from Notre Dame. Great situation, just outside the door a bank, Le Tabac, across the road on Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekend, is the Outdoor market Maubert. Up the road the Laudrette and boulangeries, green grocers, butchers, the cheese lady, the chicken man... everything you need within seconds.
    It was raining on and off but that didn’t matter, we have umbrellas. It is so colourful in Paris, so even grey days look wonderful.

    Just around the corner is this fab bookshop, mentioned in the Lonely Planet, Shakespeare and Company, all my fears of not having enough to read are unfounded. Full of second hand books in French and English. Dale bought a Daniel Silva for $1. Run by an American It's got everything.

    Just like a set out of movie.

    Carry on a little, Le Palais du Justice
    And Notre Dame...What a neighbourhood.
    We were intrigued by some of the quaint shops I mean who would have thought “A Degustation Menu” from this little Chinese takeaway? And a touch of Bollywood…
    Things have changed since we were here 24 years ago, who would have imagined that the French would embrace foreign foods so well.

    These children's clothes...So French Looking for a gun Monsieur? Even little Noddy has gone French. They call him Yes Yes. So down these lovely alleys, just jammed with Cafes A ‘maitre de’ from one of the restaurants, thrust his business card in my hand, touting for business, we decided against it right then and landed up in the “aptly named for the area” Latin St Jacques restaurant.
    Fondue with Fried Potatoes and Ham. Yum.

    This a scene really seen Dale writing a postcard to Michael
    We had passed this Pub. Paris is full of MichaelsThe fondue was divine.
    Wonderful ham and fried potatoes. Hard to be a slim person here. How do the French do it?Obviously all those cigarettes and red wine.
    Mind you the ban on smoking in restaurants has been enforced. No arguments with that.
    Fascinating, how do the cars get in and out of the car parks.

    If you have a smart car no problemo.

    Home for a rest, and then the McCreadys came over and we ventured out to show them our area. It is a plethora of restaurants Everything you could dream of. Love these Creperies. Nutella big on the menu, wouldn’t the kids be thrilled?
    So on reflection, we decided to take up the offer from our man of the morning, and headed off to Restaurant Cour de la Huchette
    It was a great choice, the staff were fun and the food was good. I had Foie Gras and Magret .

    Then JT and I shared a Mint Chocolate Pudding.

    It was great fun.

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    What's for Lunch - Chicken Salad

    Today I am staying with my friend Sheryl in beautiful Omaha Beach and we have guests coming for lunch.
    We were inspired by Mrs. Garten’s Barefoot Contessa original recipes from her Deli circa 1970.

    So I roasted a chicken and of course, made the unmentionable sin of wanting to make something, before you know what ingredients are available.
    So off to the shops we went…No green grapes, but there was black.
    Fresh tarragon…no…but when we got home, we found some tarragon mustard in the pantry. Other than that, we were sweet, so here ya go my version and it’s pretty good.

    4 chicken breasts (or 1 whole chicken) roasted
    1 cup black grapes (cut in half)
    1 cup celery finely chopped
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    ½ cup good mayonnaise
    1 teaspoon tarragon mustard
    Zest and juice of ½ lemon
    1 tablespoons chopped parsley to garnish

    Roast the chicken,
    Remove meat from bones, place in bowl
    (Don’t forget to make stock with the bones and drippings)
    Add grapes, celery and mayo
    Garnish with parsley and let sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature to let the flavours meld.

    Then to accompany…
    Carrot Salad
    There was supposed to be pineapple as an ingredient, but unfortunately the one from the shop was rotten, as luck would have it, I had papaya in the fridge.
    Ina Garten used mayo, I thought 2 mayo salads a bit heavy, so I used French dressing.
    Both worked!

    4 carrots peeled and grated
    ½ cup of papaya diced
    ½ cup of sultanas soaked for 30 minutes and drained
    2 radishes cut into sticks

    3 tablespoons French dressing
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Pile all ingredients into bowl and toss
    Let sit for about 1 hour and serve.
    Some crunchy bread and butter and eat. Gorgeous.
    Of course I made chicken soup.Perfect for Sheryl's dinner tonight.

    Sunday, July 26, 2009

    La Belle Paris - Just as we remembered it...Fabulous

    We arrived on the train, just a few hours from Amsterdam to Paris, pretty easy.
    Destination - Gare du Nord.
    Lets go Metro to our new house. Great idea.
    We got as far as Gare du Austerlitz, then we needed to get to our next Port of Call, Maubert-Mutualité. We staggered down 3 flight of stairs with lots of Le Baggage to get to Line 10.
    We still had more stairs to go, some bags were getting thrown by one member of the party.
    Stressful! so we abandoned that scenario and we staggered back up the stairs to catch a cab.

    Of course, so there were a lot of other people with the same idea so we went into the queue.
    I was very taken with this old man.

    He had appointed himself as “LeTaxi Controller”.
    As a cab came up, he ushered it in and then pointed to the person at the front.
    Of course he was expecting a tip…no-one obliged. He occupied himself, with also controlling his plonk, which was in an old plastic drink bottle. He would sit on the rubbish tin wait till the next cab came in, jump up, knock his drink bottle over, go through the exercise of trying to get money, then start all over again.
    It may have been grey and cold standing in the queue but what great free entertainment.
    So it was easy from then on.
    Here we are.
    St Germain Boulevard
    Place Maubert
    Luckily there was a lift ,as once again we are up several flights of stairs.
    We may have got rid of the big bag but we were still carrying many kilograms.
    Those bloody bags couldn't fit on in one go, so Dale went up first, only room for 2 bags and Dale.
    I was a bit freaked at first, I get claustophobic. But I bit the bullet and did it. By the end of our stay, I was quite nochalant. Just jumped in, faced the mirror and talked to myself till the lift reached its destination.
    The flat is so cute, hardly room to swing a cat but just perfect for us.
    A note from a previous tenant mentioned the 24 hour Jazz Radio Station. Popped that on.
    We are in France, wonderful.
    Our living room for the next 6 days.Particuarly taken with the Loo. Great colour.
    The bathroom
    The kitchen.
    Just perfect for us.
    John and Jt were staying in Hotel Le Six, in the Montparnasse area.
    We had a wine in the foyer and then out to eat.
    Dale McCready, John’s son had come in from Compriene, which is north of Paris, to join us for dinner. He is DOP on the TV Drama series "Merlin" and it was great to see him.
    It was an interesting start to the evening. We had 1 nearly dinner and 1 really dinner.
    The nearly dinner was a little Seafood restaurant that caught our attention called Le Dome.
    There was a lobster special, on the sign out front.
    Sounds good, but things stared to go wrong fairly quickly .
    No 1 We were seated at the rear next to the kitchen,
    No 2 Opened the menu
    1st item Lobster Salad with Tomato 60 euros
    Oooh even asparagus 18 euros…oh well
    3rd Mistake No service.
    In unison, we let our feet do the walking, out we went.
    That got them going, they chased us and tried to make amends but too late.
    So we walked across the road to the Villa Borghese.
    What a difference, Dale Mac and I had Veau Blanc with fried potatoes.

    No gluten salads for John, Pizza and pasta for Dale and JT.
    Lovely waiter, handsome, attentive and fun, what a change.
    Happy Punters, Dale and Dale

    Family Portrait, Montparnesse area. Sunday June 7th 2009Taxi home. Turns out Le Dome is one of Paris’ upscale restaurant.
    So much for them then.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    The Food of Croatia - Wonderful

    Before we went to Croatia, I was given the impression that the Food of Croatia was dull. Well, I don’t know whether or not those critics went to entirely different places that we visited, as I cannot speak more highly of the food and produce in this country.
    Unfortunately, I am not able to supply shots of all of the food that I will be talking about, but I have found a shot or two that represents at least the restaurant or the town. I will apologise in advance for the quality of a lot of my photography, sometimes it just had to be a half eaten dinner, or an empty plate… obviously eating and drinking got in the way of a good photo.

    The food is based on fresh produce, plenty of seafood, scampi, squid etc but white fish was expensive and not available everywhere.
    Bread on the table straight away, good selection of bottled waters.
    Our first meal was in Trogir. We noticed fairly quickly, that most of the restaurants had the same menu. Italian style, Antipasti, pasta, pizza, grilled sea-food. There was the northern influence of schnitzel, steak, pork and lamb.. They have a very good dried ham in the prosciutto style, grilled vegetables, food prepared freshly and simply. It is really just a matter of picking the restaurant that appeals.
    We wandered through the streets and decided on a little place tucked away in an alley.
    Laurian and I had Scampi, mine was plain grilled and she had the Scampi Buzara, which is in a tomato cream based sauce and very Croatian.. Very tasty.

    Dale and Geoff had Spag Bol both agreed it was very good.
    We had the house wine, perfectly acceptable, both White and Red.
    Didn’t shoot the food, but was very taken by the little canary in the corner.

    Laurian discovered from our hosts at Domus Maritima that an essential ingredient in Croatia cooking was Vegeta.
    It is a powdered flavouring probably containing all sorts of things that are not particularly good for you. But, an excellent flavour booster.
    If you dip your finger in you get dehydrated vegetables, salty and a touch of spice…We bought some of course. Plus I have brought some home.
    For lunch yesterday, I added it to the fried breadcrumbs that I sprinkled on top of our spaghetti. It is yummy.
    So we went shopping at the local market to provision for the boat. The fruit and vegetables were superb. Plus we were very taken with the local goats cheese. There was lots of samples for us to try. Of course we bought that as well.

    That night we found another alley restaurant. I had Pizza Margherita, I think they use the Buzara sauce, instead of fresh tomatoes and then melted cheese on top, large, very good,. I do like fresh tomatoes though but no complaints…Dale, Lasagne, Laurian Seafood Risotto and Geoff, Steak and Chips

    We got complimentary Grappa for the boys and a Banana tasting liqueur for the ladies. A nice end to our meal.
    Below our charming waiter…responsible for the free drinks.

    Next day Supermarket Shopping…this was interesting, a language that we have no affinity to…labeling that was strange to us…lack of major international brands.
    Even buying dips and cream cheese. We ended up with a cottage cheese spread which was nice, but I expected cream cheese.

    They have a wonderful little ham you buy in a piece and slice as you need it, Very juicy and sweet.
    They have packets of chocolate chip biscuits which were just fabulous.
    We also fell on love with these little croutons (pictured below)
    They are really good, keep their crispness but not tough, and they are in the shape of a little loaf.
    I am going to try and hunt them out here in New Zealand. Best I've had.
    We first saw them in Amsterdam in the Sandays Sandwich factory,
    Merrin Wessels served them to us, topped with some of the fabulous fillings they have in their sandwiches.
    So topped off with a lot of provisions we were ready to set sail.
    Our next restaurant call was in Hvar.

    We sat outside in the sun Geoff and I ordered Schnitzel and Chips, The veal here is tasty and delicious. Laurian and Dale had Seafood Risotto. It was good but not fab, we like the prices and the local wine, the people watching was fun.

    Next was the bay of (wonderfully named) Palmezana, quaintly, there is a fab little bar with two tree houses for the punter to have their drinks and gaze over the lovely little harbour.
    They also sport a restaurant and here we dined.
    Dale and Laurian had Fish soup and Octopus salad.
    The Octopus Salad is a specialty of Croatia and this one was very good. The soup was a little disappointing, just a broth with a bit of fish floating in it BUT I hit the schnitzel again and it was very good accompanied by the most creamy mashed potatoes. Fantastic

    The wines we enjoyed the most were from the Peljesac Peninsula, which is opposite Korcula, our next port of call we and also the Plavac Label was amongst our favourites.

    Korcula…here I had an excellent Maitai in a bar not far from the Marina, they had added pineapple juice and I have to say that was a winner.
    Off to yet another good restaurant, Amphora, Dale and Laurian had grilled sea bass. Very succulent but very small. Geoff went for the beef again and I had small sausages, Kofta style nice and moist with plenty of flavour. With a very tasty tomato sauce accompanied by grilled vegetables…
    We lashed out and ordered pancakes, filled with chocolate. Bit decadent but a nice ending to the meal.
    Pancakes are big on the dessert menus. Unfortunately they don’t do lemon and sugar only chocolate or strawberry jam and cream.

    On the local produce, front look at those tomatoes and they tasted as good as they looked. The Insalata Caprese, put together by Laurian, on board the good ship Viktoria, was dressed with another little gem. Local Olive Oil purchased from a couple of old ladies at a roadside stall. It was excellent nice peppery back taste.
    Dubrovnik well I have already waxed lyrical about that beautiful town and it’s food so I won’t bore you again.
    So another overnight in Mljet, ate easy on board.
    In the morning we were off to Vis. The waterway into this pretty little port was dotted with picturesque villages nestled in the hills. Quite a long sail
    Got out the Heineken Geoff had bought a keg of the beer
    It is really nice beer.
    I even had a second glass which is unusual for me.
    Once again the lazy mooring technique, back in and tie on, very simple.
    There is even a man walking the plank for you.
    Right opposite The Good Ship Viktoria, was the market including the fish market. It is there every day, once again, great produce .

    We looked in the Lonely Planet and found a restaurant that we thought would fit the bill.
    Restaurant Val. Set on the waterfront, a brisk walk from the Mooring

    Set amongst palm trees, very tropical, below a couple of satisfied customers
    We were immediately taken with it, and the staff
    Our charming waitress.

    It was an interesting menu.
    I went for the schnitzel again… served with grilled vege

    Tender and mouthwatering.
    Dale and Laurian Seafood Pasta,

    Geoff went for Seafood and Bean pasta. Looked great.

    We started with a bowl of mussels, small and sweet, the local ham wrapped around melon and some bread stuffed with sardines

    We treated ourselves to profiteroles and we were given dessert wine served with lemon peel to accompany it. Nice touch.

    Geoff bought squid from the fish market, we bought lovely peaches and tomatoes plus some more good goats cheese. Off to next port of call Kaprije.

    Another lovely island
    We anchored there and we waited for the crew of Chinano to arrive.
    Geoff cooked the squid it was delicious.
    Bit of prep first

    I cooked some roasted summer vege. Nice dinner.
    Dale had been shopping and had bought T shirts for the crew.
    For some reason Geoff’s was a little tight, but nevertheless, he looked very fetching we felt!

    Laurian of course always looks great
    The crew of Chinano rafted up and they were wearing their Team Shirts
    We consumed a few wines into bed, big plans for the next day, We were off to Skradin/Scardona. Same place 2 names.
    After an early morning swim, our little flotilla took off, another picturesque journey, and then pulled into the Marina at Skradin.
    Below the Good Ship Viktoria at the Marina.
    Went ashore and wandered around the little town. Very pretty
    Larry had been to Restaurant Skala before and recommended that we all try it.
    Good recommendation. It was one of our best meals of the trip.
    I had steak with tagliatelle flavoured with truffles.
    Excellent the beef they have here, the steak was perfect.
    Laurian ordered Octopus Salad and it was the best yet.

    The next morning we got up early and off to see the Famous waterfall.
    Well worth the visit.

    The National Park is very beautiful and peaceful, it’s a beautiful journey on the ferry to get to the waterfall.
    It took us about 90 minutes to get around the park.

    So after a pleasant visit, we farewelled Chinano.
    Our last night on the boat. We spent it at the Skradin Marina. An early night and back to Sibernik, where we got a ride to Trogir…farewelled our crew mates, It has been a wonderful 2 weeks. We had one more night in Trogir. Back to Domus Martima.

    Another excellent meal Restaurant Don and Dino, just down one of those alleys.
    Dale and I shared a Fava Bean and Cuttlefish dish served on Creamy Polenta
    It came in this cute little copper pot over a flame.

    which was so good I scraped my plate this clean!

    Another Steak meal for me, and Sea Bass for Dale Both good.
    So Croatia, you have done us proud and we just loved our stay in your wonderful country.
    We toast you “U Zdravlje and Hvala.”

    P.S. In the whole two weeks I only saw one Irish Pub and not one Asian restaurant.
    And even though I know they're there, not one Golden Arch.
    Truly ethnic food.