Paris, je t'aime

The Louvre
Versailles Chateau
Centre Pompidou
Musee d'Orsay (They were on strike!)
Eiffel Tower at night
See the city by bike

Paris is such a magical city, alive with colours and rushing people at all hours of the day. I went there for a five-day holiday with a general idea of what I wanted to cover during my stay. My friend and I were able to pack loads of stuff into our short visit, and by the end we boarded our train with pastries, completely exhausted. From Renaissance art and graffiti, to cathedrals and towers, to giant meringues and Canadian pubs, to shopping shopping shopping we did it all.

My first Laduree experience was in London actually, where I tried Pistachio, which remains one of my favourites. I also tasted salted caramel, rose petal, and orange blossom all of which were exquisite.

But now I had 5 days in Paris and on my list of must-sees: Laduree.

There are 3 Ladurees in Paris and we decided to go to the one that was in walking distance of us. Thank goodness we didn’t go to the main, large one because there had just been a huge fire there the day before and it was closed! Mon Dieu! I would have been heartbroken if I had turned up there.
This Laduree we visited was packed with two things: people and desserts. With their large variety of macarons and list of new flavours it was very difficult to choose but I finally settled on a few boxes and headed to the Seine to taste test.
I had been dying to taste the new green apple, which was such a strange flavour for a macaron. I liked it but I felt like I was eating a candy.

One of my favourite new flavours was the violette cassis, which was fruity and you could still taste the floral hints.
The Colombian chocolate was very rich, with an indulgent ganache. I wasn’t a huge fan though.
I loved the praline and coconut, both were fantastic and I savoured them while enjoying the view of the riverbank painted in the late afternoon colours.
Paris is an amazing city, I don’t really know what else to say. It’s massive and just overflowing with art, museums, restaurants, churches, shops, boulangeries, bars, parks, stunning architecture (and unfortunately tourists). A city where you could never be bored, and living there all your life you would never run out of new discoveries.

Apparently New York is the next city to be hit with a Laduree. Only a matter of time until they migrate to Canada. Maybe by the time I return home (if I ever do) Toronto will have one.
Also when I was in Paris, I discovered the best pain au chocolat. It was the most perfect one I have yet to taste, buttery and flakey and filled with lines of soft chocolate mmmmm. I wonder if I could order some and have them shipped to my door…


Marbled Chocolate Chunk Banana Muffins

Finally a recipe post woohoo!

Today I am very excited to present my first guest post. And it is brought to you by none other than two of my favourite ladies: Anna and Megan, my housemates from university. I don’t like how negative ex-housemates sounds, so I will refuse to say it. Besides I prefer to think of them as my housemates even though we moved out in April after our 3 years together. If you’ve read this blog before then you know I tend to talk about them a lot… we are all a bunch of food enthusiasts. And as you may have noticed, Anna is quite a frequent visitor, commenting on almost every post :)

So Anna and Megan had a little baking extravaganza in Toronto a little while ago and they have requested I post their delicious recipe: Marbled Chocolate Chunk Banana Muffins

MMM don’t they sound amazing? They look it too! If only I wasn’t in France right now, I would have loved to sneak a muffin… or 5. Too bad that darn ocean got in the way.

Their variety of ingredients leads to very moist and flavourful muffins, and they’re also dairy-free!

You should probably make these muffins. I know I certainly will. Especially because banana muffins/bread is apparently a North American thing… the French don’t seem to bake this wonder. It’s time to enlighten them I think!

Thank you Anna and Megan for this fantastic recipe!

 Marbled Chocolate Chunk Banana Muffins


1 cup mashed very ripe banana
3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup almond milk (or your preferred non-dairy milk)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons boiling water, divided

Prepare boiling water, no need to measure yet. Also, preheat oven to 350 F.
Mash the banana in a large mixing bowl until relatively smooth. It should take 3 average sized ones, but spoon the mashed ‘nanas into a measuring cup to make sure, then return to the mixing bowl. Beat in the sugar, canola oil, milk and vanilla.
Now add the flour, baking soda and salt and gently mix just to incorporate. It’s okay if there is some flour still visible, just be careful not to overmix at this point.
Scoop one cup of the batter up and transfer it to a separate mixing bowl. Now, in a small tea cup mix the cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons boiling water and stir vigorously with a fork until the chocolate is dissolved. Add this chocolate mixture to the one cup of banana and mix until the chocolate is thoroughly smooth and incorporated.
Now back to the original plain banana batter; add 3 tablespoons of boiling water and mix the batter just until relatively smooth.
Here comes the fun part, it’s time to marble! Lightly grease an 8×4 loaf pan. Scoop alternate 1/2 cupfuls of chocolate/banana batter into the loaf pan. Nothing has to be precise here, in fact, the more random, the better. Once all of the batter is in, take a butter knife and swirl it through the batter in circular directions for about 10 seconds.
Bake for 55 minutes. Use a butter knife to test for doneness. Let cool and enjoy!


Italian Eats

 The most expensive vinegar I've ever had

 I had such a wonderful experience with food while in Bologna. I stayed with a friend there for a week, who I had met in Australia, and he insisted on cooking for me everyday. Okay, I think I can live with that!

After dragging myself off the plane and onto the bus to his apartment, all I could think about was taking a nap (I slept a full 20 minutes the night of my flight from Madrid to Bologna). After a much needed sleep I woke up to a delicious lunch waiting for me. He had prepared this pasta dish, which was topped with 300€ balsamic vinegar. No that's not a typo.

It was divine.

Whether it was for lunch or dinner, we ate pasta every single day. I learned so much from my friend as he cooked for me a few of his favourite pasta dishes, risotto, and warm and toasty piadinas (mmm I could go for one topped heavily with mozzarella and rocket right about now). It was all so delicious and full of flavour, and we ate so much of everything. Possibly a little too much. It's a good thing I was spending everyday walking miles around various cities to even out the calorie intake.

One night we had Beef Carpaccio, which I have never had before. For those of you who aren't familiar with the dish, it consists of thin slices of raw beef, and can be topped with arugula and parmesan cheese. It is covered with lemon juice and left in the fridge so that the lemon can 'cook' the meat. 

And last but not least: GELATO

I ate so much of this creamy cold stuff while wandering the streets of Florence, Roma and Belogna. Gotta get my fix while I can right?

This was my friend's favourite Gelateria in Bologna, and in his opinion some of the best. Here I tried gelato with marscapone and figs, and also crema Bolognese. Both were so so very good, and definitely my favourite while in Italy. We also visited the famous Vivoli in Florence, where they claim to make the best gelato in the city, and argue for one of the top spots in Italy. Here I tried both blueberry and coconut, both of which were very nice.

Ahh posting about all this Italian food is making me hungry.

On the menu tonight: spaghetti carbonara, recipe courtesy of my Italian chef :)