Category Archives: Paris

Fundraising for Japan – A Success, And Yes, We Have A Winner!

Thanks to your generous donations, The Pleasure Monger’s fundraising event for Japan was a success! We may have fell short of the £2000 target, but we did raise a whopping £1510, which amounts to 76% of our target! To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anyone would donate when I organised this, but a number of you did; the funds that we’ve raised together are so much more than I could ever give on my own. I’m grateful for your support and I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The fundraising page that I’ve set up on JustGiving will run till 2016, so please continue to drop a pound or two to help the victims of the earthquake in Japan. I’m sure everyone knows that the people in Japan are still suffering from the aftermath. For people like us who can’t be there to deliver aid, we can help in other ways. Yesterday evening, I was just thinking how wonderful it would be if everyone who stops by this blog could give a pound or spare some change; we could very well raise £20000 in a month! And then we have other bloggers who are trying their best to raise funds (read the updates at the bottom of this post for more details on how you can get involved), bloggers who are way more popular, prolific and well-known than I am, and if every reader of theirs give a pound for every post they read, they could raise so much more. That £1 makes such little difference to us, but for the victims, every penny counts and the success of the fundraiser thus far proves that we can pool our resources together and make a HUGE difference. So please continue to give, within your means, to any of the avenues that are most accessible to you.

Now, let’s realise the promise I made. When I organised the fundraiser, I said that I would pledge a USD100 Amazon gift card to one lucky donor so long as he/she donates before 31 March 2011 (GMT2359h). So today, I used the random integer generator on random.org to pick a winner and the gift card goes to…….

SHIRLEY!

I’ll be in touch in the next few minutes with an Amazon email containing the gift card. Congratulations and thank you for your donation!

xx

 

Fundraising for Japan

Dear readers,

In light of the recent events that hit Japan, I have started a fundraising page on JustGiving to raise some money for the disaster relief efforts. My nominated charity is ShelterBox, which is rallying resources to help the people in Japan. Temporary shelters are getting increasingly overcrowded right now, and if you’ve read the news, many have died in the bitter cold. The Japanese authorities are requesting ShelterBox to deliver emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to the north of Japan. Thousands of boxes of such supplies are either in Japan or ready to be mobilised now, and we can help to deliver to the needs of the homeless in Japan. Please, let’s not leave them out in the freezing temperatures, and let’s work to give them a home and some warmth, literally and figuratively.

Anyone can donate, you only need a debit or credit card to do so. I can’t make a difference on my own, so instead of donating the money directly to charity, I am pledging a USD100 Amazon gift card to this fundraising event. I will randomly select the gift card recipient (using http://www.random.org/) from the list of people who donate on my fundraising page before 31 March 2011 (2359h GMT). By giving a little incentive, I hope that this will boost numbers a little and make the event worthwhile.  The gift card can be used on Amazon.com and I will email it to you before 10 April 2011. I will also announce the winner on this blog.

Please note that whilst I am not allowed to publicise this gift card raffle on my JustGiving page (as I am bound by terms and conditions), anyone who donates on my page, with a valid email address, will be eligible for this raffle. In order for me to contact you, please make sure you make your email address available to me on the JustGiving fundraising page.

Thank you for your help. Please also spread the word around, the success of this fundraising event relies on our collective effort.

Updated: I would also like to bring your attention to other avenues of donation. Some of my food blogger friends have set up an initiative called Bento4Japan, they have very generously put up some bento-related items up for auction on eBay. Please visit this site and start bidding! Or you can visit meemalee’s kitchen to have a look, she has written a nice summary of how you can help the people in Japan. Chika of the very beautiful blog, She Who Eats, is also giving away sakura ingredients to raise funds for Japan.

P/S: The fundraising page will be active till 2016, but only donors who contributed to this page before 31 March 2011 (2359h GMT) will be considered for the raffle. I am doing this because I am trying to encourage as many people to donate soon as the relief efforts are ongoing and urgently needed – WE HAVE A WINNER!

 

Our Second Visit to Paris

This is way overdue, we were in Paris for the second time in April with my parents and sister, and it’s already mid-July! Other travel and food posts are coming up for Belgium and Southwest England, but first, we go to Paris. Allow me.

Our trip to Paris 2010

So we were staying at Hotel Warwick along Avenue des Champs-Élysées, it was just a teeny bit old-fashioned, but it was clean, spacious, quiet and service was impeccable. Our room came with a king-sized bed which was more comfortable than my bed at home, unfortunately. Staying in a quiet street just off Champs-Élysées was fantastic because we were right smack in the middle of the shopping hotspots, metro stations were aplenty, and Arc de Triomphe was a 3-min walk from the hotel.

Our trip to Paris 2010

We traced the footsteps of Audrey Tautou in Amelie and took my family to Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, idled round the surroundings and listened to a harpist play whilst soaking up the sun. There was a carousel and children and dogs were all out to play in the sun, it was a really lovely day to be out. The basilique was beautiful, photography wasn’t allowed inside, so I’m afraid you would have to take my word for it.

Our trip to Paris 2010

Coincidentally, the basilique was our first stop when we visited Paris 5 years ago in 2005, when we first started dating. We took pictures on the steps, albeit on different sides flanking the basilique, we were single and now we’re married! I showed these two pictures to M and asked if he thought we had changed, he said ‘Ask your readers‘. I think that was his way of saying ‘Yes, oh gosh, we looked so….‘. Pardon the image on the right as I used to make my polaroids with Photoshop, captioned them and printed them out for M on our anniversaries, so that image looks incompatible with the format on the left.

Our trip to Paris 2010

After visiting the Basilique, we strolled over to Montmartre, where restaurants encircle an intimate gathering of artists painting, sketching and selling portraits of famous and us ordinary people and landscapes of the City of Lights. We had a terrible lunch here (I can’t emphasise more on the importance of doing food research, but it was difficult to keep to an itinerary when we’re travelling in a larger group), but made up for it with a long walk to Denise Acabo to get my precious Henri Le Roux salted butter caramels!

Our trip to Paris 2010

We took my family to Lafayette for a tea break, and went back to the hotel to rest as they were still jetlagged. Right about 7.30pm, we brought them to Tour Eiffel. I had purchased advanced tickets online and timed it to coincide with sunset (yes I’m anal like that), and still we had to join an insane queue. It was still way better than not having advanced tickets because the average wait for that would have been 3 hours, but I was so worried that we were going to miss the sunset! Thankfully we got up there in time for twilight. Dad has been to Paris, but it was the first visit for Mum and my sister, so I was eager to see their reactions. Turned out it was too darn cold for them, and they hid inside the glass-walled core most of the time!

Our trip to Paris 2010

Our trip to Paris 2010

Our trip to Paris 2010

This time, I was armed with a much better camera, and managed to get some pretty good night shots of the amazing view from Tour Eiffel.

Our trip to Paris 2010

Also managed to get steady pictures of the tower without a tripod, this has absolutely nothing to do with my skills and everything to do with my camera.

Our trip to Paris 2010

Tour Eiffel bursts into brilliant sparkles at certain times in the night, so look out for it!

Our trip to Paris 2010

My family was deadbeat when we were finished with Tour Eiffel, so we had McDonald’s takeaway for dinner back in the hotel rooms (mind you, a dinner like that cost us €40, which is pretty insane for fast food).

Our trip to Paris 2010

We had an early night, and the next day, we treated ourselves to some Jean-Paul Hevin macarons and Paul pastries for breakfast. We bought the macarons from Lafayette the day before, and they were good, but didn’t blow my mind away. They cost almost as much as Pierre Hermé ones and I’d much rather you pay a little extra for the latter. After breakie, we did the touristy thing and headed over to Notre-Dame cathedral, where we fought gales to steal a glimpse of the Crown of Thorns on Good Friday. Then I dragged my poor family and their blistered feet to Pierre Hermé to try the best macarons in the world and of course we stumbled on Pierre Hermé’s big fat secret which aren’t macarons. Very cool.

Our trip to Paris 2010

I didn’t take very many pictures for the remaining two days in our trip. We visited Versailles which was breath-taking as always, and marvelled at Mona Lisa at the Louvre. We shopped and snagged some designer stuff at unbelievable prices. We still had bad meals (some of us ended up having icky kidneys because we can’t read French and the waitress couldn’t speak English) except for some very heart-warming Chinese ones thanks to the kind Vietnamese-Chinese boss from Élysées Bonheur. The food wasn’t cooked to the most authentic standards, but it was decent (much much better than McD in Paris!) and it was so incredibly nice to meet a person who is kind, warm, hospitable and generous on our trip. He treated us to so many extra dishes, and when we got takeouts from him, he even gave us proper non-disposable chopsticks and told us there was no need to bring them back.

So as you can see here, we didn’t have a very exciting, gastronomical trip as I would have preferred, but a number of things made it memorable. Being with my family, taking them to all the places we’ve visited, going on macaron adventures, discovering salted butter caramels, visiting the places that we went to when we started dating five years ago…I thought these made up for blistered feet and everything that wasn’t.

We would still like to return to Paris for the third time, even though we haven’t had much luck with good food in our first two visits. When we do so, we hope for it to be a gastronomical trip, and yes, more shopping please!

Check out my food and travel stories in Paris.

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Indulge In Posh Nosh at Brasserie Printemps, Paris

We didn’t have many good meals during our recent trip to Paris, but I absolutely loved Brasserie Printemps. Located on the 6th floor of  the Printemps department store on Boulevard Haussmann, I was told that the brasserie offers good views. Unfortunately, there was a queue (we didn’t make reservations) even at lunch, and we settled for whatever seats they could get us. It wasn’t half bad, actually we had pretty good seats, we were right in the middle under the beautiful stained-glass cupola of the brasserie.

The historical stained-glass cupola at Brasserie Printemps

The brasserie was bustling with beautiful French people in their chic luncheon outfits. Some ladies wore pearls, some were toting designer everything, most had manicured fingers. I felt soooo underdressed and really quite badly groomed.

Anyways, D had recommended this place to me and she said she tried the smoked duck breast. Dad ended up having it, while Mum and sis had grilled salmon. I went for the beef carpaccio. M was feeling a little more adventurous, having suffered from a dismal lunch at touristy Montmarte the day before, and went for the beef tartar.

Lunch at Brasserie Printemps

The beef tartar was gorgeous. I kinda winced at the thought of having minced raw beef. I mean thinly sliced raw beef is fine, but minced just spells barbaric and disgustingly mushy. I shut my eyes when I took my first bite, and surprisingly, it was delicious and refreshing, especially with the sharpness of the capers which cut through chunks of meat nicely.

Lunch at Brasserie Printemps

The beef carpaccio won me over too. I’ve always loved beef carpaccio, but omg, this had a poached egg perched atop the slices of beef. Everyone who knows about my obsession with eggs will know that I hate to break the yolk at the beginning of a meal. I like to save it for the last, simply because gooey yolks are the best. But this was calling out to me, the egg wanted to be broken. So I did it, and gosh it made me quiver… It was perfectly poached and it was so exciting to watch the yolk drench everything on the plate. The dish was perfect. Meat check, gooey egg check, rockets (my favourite salad veggie) check, cheese check.

Lunch at Brasserie Printemps

I didn’t have a taste of the smoked duck breast and the salmon, but I thought I’d put up the pictures too, they looked pretty darn good and there were no complaints from my family, if that helps!

Lunch at Brasserie Printemps

Lunch at Brasserie Printemps

We didn’t manage to have dessert, the raw meat filled M and I up, but I caught a mother and teenage daughter (really beautiful people, well-dressed in what looked like Chanel, and svelte) sharing a mac ‘n cheese, and it looked amazing. So were the macarons on their dainty plates. Methinks we will have to go back to Printemps to have a taste if we ever return to Paris for the third time!

Brasserie Printemps is a really good place to have lunch at, the ambience is perfect, casual enough to make you feel relaxed but posh enough to up the glam factor. The prices aren’t exactly cheap, but most food places in Paris aren’t anyway (even McDonald’s…). We spent about €140 for lunch for five people, a little ridiculous for lunch but it was an experience. Besides, the cupola was really, really pretty, plenty of photo opportunities! And, it’s right in a fab luxury department store, with tonnes of gorgeous designer stuff to look at and Ladurée macarons to take away from the little store downstairs too!

Check out my food and travel stories in Paris.

Also check out my other food adventures.

Brasserie Printemps is located at:

Women’s section of Printemps, Floor 6 on 64, bd Haussmann, 75009 Paris – France

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I Need Your Help In My Reality Check!

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It’s been just over three months since I started this blog and I would like to see how it is doing, so I can improve it in future! For a start, I would like to know which topics on my blog interest you most! Please, please, please help me out here and take part in the poll, and be my reality check!

Paris Luxe Eats: Pierre Hermé and Our Big Fat Secret

Pierre Hermé's Selection of Pastries

And you thought that I was finished with Pierre Hermé….

In my previous entry, I wrote about….

“The window display at the boutique featured one and only one thing, some kind of a cream cake sandwiched and layered with thin wafers of pastry.

No macarons in sight?! Could there be a creation more delish at Pierre Hermé than its world-famous macarons?”

The answer is between a maybe and a yes.

Presenting the Millefeuille Infiniment Vanille!

Pierre Hermé's Millefeuille Infiniment Vanille

A millefeuille, which means ‘thousand-leaf’, is a French pastry made up of alternating layers of puff pastry and pastry cream. I’ve tried a millefeuille just once prior to having The One at Pierre Hermé, at one of the branches of a French patisserie called Paul in Covent Garden, London. It was cloying and dense, almost like a sweet tart and hardly befitting the ‘thousand-leaf’ description. The minute I entered the Pierre Hermé boutique, I was greeted with blocks and blocks of millefeuille in different flavours such as vanilla, caramel and raspberry. A slice was priced at a hefty €6.20 and I was inclined to spend freely on what I came for, the macarons.

Two things changed my mind. The customers before me were wiping out the millefeuilles like they cost next to nothing. And on closer inspection, the wafer-thin layers of puff pastry looked so crisp, compared to that rock from Paul, that I figured I had to sink my teeth into one!

Just when I made up my mind, the customer before me took the last piece on the counter and I was devastated. I offered a tentative ‘Do you have more of those (badly pronounced) vanilla millefeuilles?‘ when it was my turn, and thank goodness, there were more to be plated out on the counter! I got us a slice of the pastry, half-hoping that it would taste bad so I wouldn’t regret getting just one, and half-hoping that it would blow my socks off.

Back in the hotel room, we started the afternoon tea session with a grand opening of the box that contains the millefeuille, followed by a rather heartbreaking moment when I squashed the pastry with my clumsy slicing to split it into five portions. I quivered with excitement when I heard the knife cut through the top layers of pastry, as everyone watched in eager anticipation.

It tasted as good as it sounded. The caramelised puff pastry was incredibly thin, crispy, light and buttery without being the least bit oily; it was single-handedly the best pastry I have ever had and that I think I will ever have. The Madagascar vanilla mascarpone cream was absolutely divine – creamy, so light with a perfect touch of sweetness. The huge dollops of cream sandwiched between the puff pastry layers did not make us gag (even my mum, who abhors cream was dreaming about it a couple of days later). You know how light the millefeuille is when you can’t pierce through it without squeezing the cream out of the neat layers!

I am still kicking myself for not getting more slices; as it turns out, the Pierre Hermé counter in London only carries macarons and chocolates!!! I’ve crowned this millefeuille as my official birthday cake must-have, and it seems that I have to return to Paris on one of my birthdays to make that happen! Meanwhile, I shall pray really hard for Pierre Hermé to bring it to Selfridges & Co., so I can satisfy my cravings whenever. Even if he doesn’t, I’m happy to hop on the Eurostar back to the city that I don’t really like, just to get one of those.

Check out my food and travel stories in Paris.

Also check out my other food adventures.