The last time we were in Kyoto our visit was slightly interrupted by Typhoon Vongfong, I promised the Missus that we'd return and finish off the plans we'd had. And so we decided to visit during autumn, where we'd see the wonderful changing of the seasons.
But first, let's have a Mt Fuji break. As I mentioned previously, when leaving Tokyo for Kyoto or anyplace in Kansai for that matter, get a seat on the right side of the Shinkansen....... On a clear day, there's nothing more picturesque than passing a snow topped Mount Fuji.
We left from Tokyo Station quite early in the morning.....I call this shot; "Onigiri at Sunrise".
And a little something from the "Ekiben Stand".
One of the really great things about train stations in Japan is....well, besides being super clean, are the availability of lockers. We stowed our luggage in a locker and headed off, back to Tōfuku-ji. I guess checking out the autumn colors is serious business here as we walked past quite a line to get in.
Of course everyone wants to view things from the Tsuten-kyō Bridge (The Bridge to Heaven) which looked absolutely packed.
As were the trails....though things were covered by the autumn foliage.
And yes indeed, the crowds were no joke.
Though this is Japan, so things were rather orderly.
And views were quite stunning.
And in spite of the crowds, things were rather quiet. So you could find that little peaceful space to admire.
Satisfied we left and headed back to the station to catch the train back to Kyoto Station.
Stopping at a few temples along the way like Taiko-an.
Back to Kyoto Station, they were gearing up for Christmas.
The chill in the air called for ramen and we headed up to 10th floor of the Station Building to Kyoto Ramen Koji, basically Kyoto Station's own "Ramen Street". There are 8 different ramen shops on this floor. Having already had Seabura (Pork Backfat) Ramen, flame torched chashu Miso Ramen in Sapporo, and Iekei Ramen, I wanted some nice Fukuoka style Tonkotsu. So I talked the Missus into Hakata Ikkousha. Yes, I know they have a location in Orange County, but I believe the menu is slightly different.
They were also the busiest place on this floor. We went to the ticket machine and put our money in and got our ticket and waited in line for about 10 minutes.
As is somewhat typical for us; there's no way I can finish a whole bowl myself; we got the Ajitama (soft boiled egg) Ramen and a side dish to share. The presentation at Ikkousha is interesting. They lie four thin slices of chashu on top of the bowl, making it look like a single large layer of pork.
Man, that egg was just a perfect soft, runny boiled thing of beauty. The pork was not my favorite, especially after having so much during this trip as it was on the bland side and rather dry. The noodles were good, a tad past how I prefer them prepared, but way better than anything here in the states. The broth was rich, but I found it less satisfying than Ippudo (we'd go to the Kyoto location later during the trip). I found it less porky and not quite as rich, even though it seemed nicely viscous. It was not bad by any means; quite good, as it still had that "aaaah" factor.
The Karaage was decent, good flavor, but the texture was a little too soft for our taste. Again, we'd have our favorite version again while in the city.
Overall, a nice bowl, decent karaage, it was autumn, the air crisp, our bellies warm.....
Hakata Ikkousha Kyoto Ramen Koji Kyoto Station Building (West Zone), 10th ﬂoor
After having a wonderful time visiting Kamakura, we were pretty hungry. We arrived back in Tokyo and freshened up. We had one more night left and the Missus still hadn't had Her share of Yakitori yet. Isehiro had been a recommendation I received and we even tried to get in on our first evening in Tokyo, but they were strangely closed. So we decided to give it another try.
My understanding is that all the tables upstairs are usually reserved, but the tables and counter downstairs are not. There was not a single soul in the place when we arrived.
But the gentleman behind the grill was cooking like crazy, then placing items in containers. The Missus and I looked at each other and got a feeling that this wasn't going to be a particularly stellar meal. Items are precooked, then reheated.
Next little thing. We were told that there were two "set" menus available.......you can do extras, but no a la carte. The full course was 6480 ¥ (about $60/US at the time) and the "healthy" course was 5832 ¥ (about $54/US). Man, that's not cheap. Each course had 9 skewers, the healthy course had some vegetable items.
We decided to stay the course and just go for it. Though at this point, I'm thinking this better be good. I decided to get a Highball to start.
After the traditional oshibori, the hot towel, things started coming fast a and furious....I mean why not? Most of it was premade.
We both got the Sasami (Chicken Breast) to start. This has never been a big favorite of mine and this version was dry and needed much more salt as well. I first thought that this might be tori-wasa, which would be tender and medium rare, but this was overcooked.
One item that I thought was good here is the Kimo; the chicken liver. The Missus loves this, but I'm not too fond of it. However, this was very good, not too minerally in flavor, without that mushiness I'm not a big fan of.
The tare added a nice sweet-saltiness that deflected all the flavors in chicken liver that I don't like.
We both also received Sunagimo, chicken gizzards.
I usually enjoy how gizzards really absorb the smokiness of the bincho; but instead of being crunchy, this was hard, and strangely didn't have that smokiness I enjoy.
Next up for the both of us was the negi-maki, thigh meat wrapped in scallion.
The meat was very moist if a bit on the tough side. The bitterness of the incinerated scallions was rather unpleasant.
Next up for the both of us is one of my key favorites when it comes to yakitori; tsukune (chicken meatball).
In complete contrast to other items that were basically burnt, this needed a bit more color. What little tare was used on the meatball brought nothing to it. The meatball was toughr than I prefer and there were hard bits as well.
Next up for the Missus, Cherry Tomatoes.
Innocuous, tart, could have used a bit more time on the grill.
I received another of my usual favorites; "kawa", chicken skin.
The burnt bits were crisp, but the rest dry and gummy. This needed more saltiness, or at least a good tare.
The Momoniku (thigh) was quite good.
Except for the scallion being burnt bitter again. Great sweet-salty flavors for the toothsome but not tough chicken thighs. The slightly smoky flavor lifted the dish.
Next for the Missus, Shiitake.
This was fine, but really didn't have any seasoning....it was almost like it hadn't been grilled. Check out the skewers, no blackening on it. Odd.
I received the Aigamo (Duck).
This needed more seasoning and was overcooked for our taste, making it tough and rather stringy.
The Missus finished up with Nankotsu; chicken cartilage.
This was decently prepared, if a bit on the dry side. The amount of salt used was perfect.
My last dish was another favorite of mine; Teba, chicken wing.
Dried out, rubbery, and too salty. Not my favorite combination of textures and tastes.
The Missus and I left somewhat disillusioned. I've always said that it's hard to get a bad meal in Japan and while this wasn't terrible, it wasn't close to being good. I'm wondering if it was just a bad night? Luckily, we'd get some great yakitori later on during this trip.
Isehiro Kyobashi Honten 1-5-4 Kyoashi, Chuo 104-0031 Tokyo
I saw this interesting little diner as we got off the train.
Spam Musubi....malasadas....loco moco...hmmm.... But of course the Missus was having none of that. Plus, I was still stuffed from breakfast.
We strolled on over to Hase-dera which was already starting to get pretty crowded on this fall morning.
The temple is built on the slope of a mountain. So while folks were headed to the Kannon Museum to view the statue of Kannon.
We decided to head up the "Prospect Road".
Which was still quite peaceful on this morning.
Which ended with a wonderful view of Kamakura and Sagami Bay.
We just meandered around the temple grounds.
Coming across the Benten-kutsu Cave.
Which contains bas-reliefs of Benzaiten and other Buddhist Gods.
There's something about the temples in Kamakura that just puts me at ease. I'm able to relax and mentally regroup and feel that yes, I am away from work.
The air seemed so fresh and clean that we decided to walk back to the Kamakura Station area. We walked along the large, but relatively quiet street, stopping along the way to buy some wagashi and also to just take it all in.
Reaching the relatively busy shopping street heading back to Kamakura Station we stopped for a coffee in a random Café.
And the Missus had Her kimishigure.
Feeling energized the Missus decided that instead of catching the train to the next stop up from Kamakura Station and get off at Kita-Kamakura; we would just walk.
Engaku-ji is right next to Kita-Kamakura Station and right behind Kencho-ji is ranked second among Kamakura's five great Zen temples.
The Butsuden displays a wooden statue of Shaka Buddha.
The Shariden displays what is supposed to be a tooth of Buddha.
This Juniper Tree is named Biyakushin and is said to have been planted by the founder of Engaku-ji, making it over 700 years old.
It's great fun wondering around the grounds of this good sized complex.
Up this hill resides the Ogane, the "Grand Bell", which of course has a story.....
And the Bentendo......
Fairly close by is Meigetsu-in. Meigetsu mean "bright moon", so you'll see representation of rabbits, (remember the Japanese children's story Tsuki no Usagi?) on the grounds. We found this one, right near the entrance to be quite charming.
The area is rather small, but hosts some important items. Kamakura was not well known for having a good fresh water supply. Therefore, any good drinkable water supply was considered a blessing. Kam--no-I is one of the ten wells of Kamakura.
There's a cave here as well; known as the Meigetsu-in Yagura. Yagura are human made caves that were used as tombs.
It is said that this is the tomb of Uesugi Norikata who is said to have founded this temple.
Along one of the walls were little "squirrel houses". There actually were squirrels scampering from house to house to grab a bite.
Speaking of grabbing a bite. Many of these temples have tea houses....which seemed kind of touristy to us. But we needed a short break so we thought why not.
This turned out to be a nice break for us.....
A nice bit of tea......a not so sweet confection.
And all on the grounds of a lovely temple in Kamakura.....
I'm sure that not having too many folks visiting when we were added to the "atmosphere". But things surely seemed serene to us....and that's what really mattered, right?
Though we really loved the little groups of Rollerskate Kids we saw along the way.
I'm not sure if this was some kind of special event or if this was a typical Saturday kind of thing. Regardless, it was really cute, kids on rollerskates, accompanied by adults, dressed up in costumes.
It really added color as we made our way along the Guadalquivir River. Finally crossing over on the Puente de Isabel II to the colorful neighborhood known as Triana. We stopped again at Mercado de Triana, picking up some Jamon Bellota Iberico Pata Negra. We'd be heading back to Madrid the next morning at it was kind of our tradition to always pack some bread, jamon, and good Spanish Olive Oil for a snack along the way.
For lunch, I went searching for a place I'd read about only once; I really don't recall where....but down the back streets of Triana, on Calle Victoria.....is this place.
Appropriately named Victoria 8. We walked in and were told that there were no tables available, all were reserved. But we asked to sit at the bar.......just wanting to graze on some tapas.
Which was no problem. It was fun watching folks walk in.....quite a few larger parties, all of which seemed like locals.
We placed our orders, got some wine, and something to start us off.
The wonderful slightly acidic tomatoes....the "taste of sunshine" I call it; matched with a nice peppery-grassy olive oil; the jamon ends, salty and chewy adds texture...and who doesn't like a little boiled egg on top of anything? A very nice rendition.
The Missus loves Her callos.
This was an ok version; the flavor a bit too mild for us.....except for that morcilla (blood sausage), which was really good. I ended up ordering that to end our meal.
The Croquetas de Rabo de Toro - "Bull's Tail Crouquettes" were rich and full of flavor.
Glad we only got three, this would have been too much of a good thing. Well mixed, melt in your mouth, beefy goodness. The potatoes were fairly crisp but quite routine.
We decided to try the Alcachofas (Artichokes ). It was the one dish we didn't care for at La Azotea and I wanted to try it again.
This version had Foie Gras and confit scallion and was delicious; some nice acid, but not too much, richness from the foie gras, sweet-pungency from the confit scallion.
The last item might have been the best; such a beautiful dish with a rather long name; Morcilla de Burgos y Piquillos con Manzana Confitada.
Burgos is famous for their blood sausage (morcilla) and this was lovely. Again, it was combination of the earthy flavors and in typical Burgos style had onions and rice. The piquillo sauce had a nice smokiness and light sweetness; the apple (manzana) confit was nicely spiced and added just the right amount of sweetness. This was delici-yoso.
We had a very nice meal and if I recall, with a couple of glasses of wine each was still less than 40 bucks. It was a very nice time, we were satisfied, but not stuffed, one of the things we really enjoy about tapas. We'd gladly, and probably will return if we're ever back in Seville.
Victoria 8 Calle Victoria 8 Seville, Spain
We made our way back to the apartment....it was Saturday and Seville was buzzing. I'll end the post with the requisite photo of Plaza San Salvador, which I've included in many of my Seville posts. As you can see; this is a happening place.
I had made plans after we'd done quite a bit of walking and of course shopping during the day. We'd already done nearly 12 miles and would end up at nearly 15. Of course there was the requisite nap and taking a leisurely walk before dinner.
It is indeed the city of light, regardless of what the true story behind that nickname.
Just take a look at Invalides, lights shining brightly even on a foggy night like this.
We meandered our way to our dining destination; Restaurant David Toutain in Arrondissement 7. I picked David Toutain because of the namesake's innovation and skill, especially with vegetable dishes, something the Missus is leaning toward these days. I thought I'd save the heavier and more traditional dishes for Burgundy, where we were headed in the morning. I'm not going to make this a very long post, as while we really enjoyed this meal, and found a wine that we kept searching for throughout Beaune and Burgundy, a fabulous and amazing white from the Domaine Alain Gras in Saint Romain (we even went to the Domain), this meal was over shadowed with an amazing meal from Sola that we'd have on the way back.
Still, that is not to say the meal wasn't innovative, starting with the amazing combination of Salsify with White Chocolate.
Earthy tones with a very mildly sweet and creamy "dip".
It was a show of creativity and the presentation was quite interesting.
This brioche was addictive.....
An interesting variety of textures and techniques; a bit of molecular gastronomy here and there.
Yes, there was quinoa, fried, airy pork skin, thin slices of walnut.....
And one spectacular piece of Cod, that had the Missus and I staring at each other. The texture was so decadent and buttery; I'm thinking this was sous-vide.
We're still talking about how amazing the fish in this dish was.....
Another fantastic dish was the Smoked Eel in Black Sesame; not something I'd generally think would go well together.
But the strong, smoky flavor of the eel really stood up well to the powerful nutty flavor of black sesame. The toothsome texture of the fish and the thick sauce complimented each other as well.
At the end, there was dessert.....a lot of dessert.....
The Entremets (palate cleansing course) was another amazing combination of flavors that worked together; Cauliflower Puree with White Chocolate and Coconut Ice Cream.
Dessert is of course, the Missus's thing and She really enjoyed Herself.
I thought the presentation of the Churros was a bit much.....
The staff here was amazing; professional yet friendly and warm. When the Sommelier noticed we enjoyed the Alain Gras so much, he gave us a second glass, and then matched it flawlessly with a few other dishes to display the fine range of the wine. The actual restaurant is quite discreet, no big signs, just a simple "DT" carved in the doorway.
While I'm not sure we'll be back soon; I'm glad we had the experience.
Restaurant David Toutain 29 Rue Surcouf 75007 Paris, France
We walked back to our hotel, quite happy with our time in Paris. Heck, even the Eiffel Tower surrounded by fog looks quite romantic, don't you think?
The recent sunny, post storm(s) weather had me thinking about Lima again. And then I realized; man, I better finish up those posts.
So what to do after having sanguches de chicharron for breakfast, then walking the pork off at Mercado de Surquillo? Well, if you're with the Missus, you'd understand that She'd be wanting more cebiche. There's a shop in the back of the Mercado that I'd heard about named Bam Bam. And upon finding the little shop; it became apparent that Gaston Acurio likes the place as well.
The place was just opening when we arrived and we had no problem getting seats at one of the tables. The woman who served us was nice and professional; though the chips and the canchita tasted like they were mass produced. Still, we weren't here for those items; we wanted some cebiche and perhaps tiradito....and heck this place is known for the conchas negras, so why not get the combination?
Which is precisely what we did. Not being super hungry, we decided on splitting this; just getting a taste of four different items.
The best by far was the conchas negras; the perfect texture, toothsome, but not tough, the bitterness of the clams muted, with the brininess just perfect, nice acidity, the onions adding just enough pungency. This was very, very good.
The cebiche classico was next.
A nice rendition, we still prefer the version at El Veridico de Fidel, but this was solid; balanced acidity in the leche de tigre, the fish perhaps a bit too stringy for my taste, but a nice even flavor. And of course; the Missus can never get enough choclo.
That scallop in the cebiche mixto was delicious and the texture of the squid was amazing.
But the leche de tigre here just wasn't enough and this came off as being strangely mutes in taste. I even think it could have used some salt....more acidity. But the textures of everything except the shrimp, was fantastic.
I found the fish did much better texture-wise in the tiradito, but found the aji amarilla based sauce to be too thin.
It seemed like the basic house leche de tigre with some aji amarilla paste in it. This could have used a bit more oomph.
While we preferred this to La Mar and Punto Azul, it lagged behind El Veridico de Fidel in our minds. I'd still eat here again in a heartbeat.....man the conchas negras...I've never had them taste so good and the texture so perfect.
Cevicheria Bam Bam y Sus Conchas Negras Jr. Luis Varela y Orbegozo 213 Lima, Peru
In he mood for taking a nice long walk before our standard afternoon nap; we walked all the way from Surquillo back to Parque de Alfredo Salazar.
After our very nice and refreshing stop at Laduree, the Missus was itching to do some shopping.
I was however, quite surprised that She kept a rather leisurely pace as we headed down Champs-Élysées.
And while we didn't visit the exhibition at the Grand Palais, which was actually built as an exhibition hall for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the building has had many uses over the years. During World War I it served as military hospital, during the Nazi occupation a truck depot.
We stopped at the statue of Charles de Gaulle on Place Clemenceau to take a photo.
This area, full of lovely green spaces is called des Jardin des Champs-Élysées and is quite lovely. There are many statues and fountains located on the garden grounds. This one, named "Fontaine des Ambassadeurs", also known as the "Venus Fountain" dates back to 1840.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées ends at a large public square, Place de la Concorde, know for its two grand fountains.
And one dramatic looking, gold topped obelisk, which was originally located at the entrance of Luxor Temple in Eqypt. If you've read our posts on Istanbul, Rome, and even Brno, you'll know that the Missus has a thing for Obelisks, so we had to stop here. The Luxor Obelisk is supposedly over 3000 years old and was shipped from Luxor in 1832, arriving in Paris late in 1833. The pedestal details how the obelisk was transported to Paris, quite an engineering feat back in the day. The original pedestal resides in the Louvre. The gold leaf Pyramidion was installed in 1998 to replace one that had been missing since the 6th century.
It's quite a busy area.
We were going to check out Place de la Madeleine, but by this time the Missus was focused. So we turned left on Rue Saint Honore, then left on Rue Cambon, and arrived at the Missus's destination in the very upscale Opera Neighborhood.
They flagship store of Chanel......sigh. It was quite an experience, with one on one service, refreshment, and so on. I won't go into how much $$$$, or should I say "€€€€" the Missus spent. But let's just say She was quite happy...except for not having shoes in Her size.
In case you're thinking about stopping by:
Chanel Cambon 31 Rue Cambon 75001 Paris, France
The Missus, disappointed in Chanel not having the shoes She wanted, had a plan B so we headed off. At least I know why they call this area "Opera". It's because of the Palais Garnier, the striking looking Opera House.
Around the corner from the Opera House on Rue de la Paix is a location of Repetto. Repetto was founded in 1947 as a maker of ballet shoes. It is super popular in Japan. Being married to the Missus has its hazards; I know more about handbags and women's shoes than any red blooded male should. Anyway, the shoes are quite beautiful. The Missus requested black; but the savvy saleswoman brought out a pair of the Repetto BB in Flame Red and told the Missus they were the number one selling shoe in Japan! I gotta admit, they did look good, so I told the Missus buy them both (She's since bought four more.....sigh). Here's a wonderful blog post if you want to know more about Repetto shoes. There was one funny thing that happened. As I paid for the shoes, the young lady who helped us looked at my name and started talking to me in fluent Japanese! Ok......tis was starting to get a bit surreal. In chatting I found out she was one-quarter Japanese, though she didn't look it at all, and felt more comfortable speaking in Japanese than English!
Boutique Repetto 22 Rue de la Paix 75002 Paris, France
Lest you think I've gone around the bend and this has suddenly become a fashion blog.....
The Missus and I were getting somewhat hungry. While we didn't want too much to eat since we had quite a dinner planned, a croissant and coffee was just not going to do. Looking at my trusty Google Map, I noticed one of the places I entered, an interesting concept restaurant named Boco.
Created by two brothers, Vincent and Simon Ferniot, the shop is basically what I'd call Fast-Casual...or perhaps "Fast-Bistro". It has definitive French twist. Most of the items are served in a "bocal" (glass jar), which, in additional to being recyclable, means you can eat it in the restaurant, or take it home with you. In fact we saw two folks come in and leave with bags full of jars. I read that most ingredients are organic, and here's the kicker, are recipes from a star studded cast of chefs.
You basically pick your stuff out....let them know if you want to eat in, whereupon they'll heat up the items that need it, or take it to go.
Word of warning; this ain't super cheap. Especially if you visit the shop in Orly Airport. But just wanting a smaller sized meal, this proved to be quite relaxed and nice.
We started with Rabbit Rillettes and Celeriac...sorry no photo, we were hungry and just whacked this.
This recipe was courtesy of multi-Michelin starred chef Stéphane Décotterd. It was refreshing, the lapin perhaps a bit on the dry side, but the celeriac and mustard-aioli based sauce was really nice. Not too rich, nice acidity.
The Missus loved the Ouef Moelleux et Mousse de Courge au Lard.
Think of it as a perfect poached egg in a pumpkin mousse, with bacon. This recipe courtesy of Gilles Goujon, whose name I recognized. He is the chef and owner of Three Michelin starred L'Auberge du Vieux Puits.
My favorite dish was the lamb confit over winter vegetable ratatouille.
So perfectly gamey...at Orly, the whole dining area of Boco there smelled like this. Kinda scary to Americans, comforting to me. Loved the sauce, a bit of acid, some tanginess, I think from a tomato product, with an interesting sweetness. The lamb was both tender and gamey...the flavor of the green pasture coming through.
Overall we enjoyed this meal. It was comforting, the portion sizes not too large, definitely not like your friendly neighborhood Chiptole, Five Guys, Luna Grill, or Panera. The young man working here was very friendly. Not everyone's cup of tea....but if we had one on the corner, I'd be there quite often.
boco 3 Rue Danielle Casanova 75001 Paris, France
From here we headed back, walking through the Jardine de Tuileries. Folks were out and about, socializing. We stopped to watch this game of bocce.
A couple of the guys waved me down...wanting me to embarrass participate. I just laughed and nodded a solid negative. Where was the uptight and serious French folks told me about?
Surely not here in the park...enjoying the fall colors or lounging by the fountains.
We walked along the Seine and past Place de la Concorde.
Passing by the steady gaze of the statue that represents the City of Lyon.
And over the bridge.
We meandered our way back to our hotel on Avenue de la Bourdonnais.
We decided to take a short nap. As we unloaded our bags, you could see that the Missus had "made out".
Our first night in Paris was rather low-keyed. We got a great night's sleep and the Missus was ready to go in the morning. The skies were overcast and hazy, but that didn't stop folks from enjoying the Eiffel Tower....like these Nuns, with smartphones and iPads, taking selfies even!
We had an outline of what the Missus wanted to do on this day and crossed the Seine on Pont d'lena.
I guess they decided not to turn on the fountains in Jardins du Trocadero because of the rather dreary weather on this morning.
From the Palais de Chaillot, the Missus decided She watned to wander Avenue d'Eylau and Rue de Longchamps to Avenue Victor Hugo where we stopped for some espresso and shared a croissant. Up Victot Hugo, we then crossed the super crazy roundabout and headed up Avenue Raymond Poincare to one of the richest and most prestigious streets in Paris; Avenue Foch. Finally stopping at the Arc de Triomphe.
This iconic to celebrate and symbolize France's victories and those who fought for and died for the country in a very Roman way. Take a look at the sculpture of Napoleon being crowned by the Goddess of Victory.
And while Napoleon died long before the completion of the Arc, his remains were passed through the Arc on its return from Saint Helena, on its way to Invalidies.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I was buried here on Armistice Day in 1920.
We decided to take the stairs, all 284 of them to the top.
The stairs weren't too bad, but somewhat dizzying.
The view from the top, even on a overcast, foggy day was still stunning.
And we'd be crossing over to Avenue des Champs-Élysées upon leaving.
There were a few "musts" on the Missus's list for being in Paris for the first time; one of them was a walk down Champs-Élysées. It was a pleasant walk, but really didn't have any of the type of shopping for the Missus's taste. There were some interesting things though, like why no "Golden Arches" for what is considered the "the largest McDonald's Restaurant in the world"?
Apparently, there's some strict sign codes on the Champs-Élysées and if Mickey D's, or "MacDo" as they call them here, wanted to operate on the Avenue. By the way, did you know that the second largest market for McDonalds is France? WTH..... But, according to this posting in NPR, there may be some really good reasons why.
The one must stop for the missus was the Flagship store of Laduree, established in 1862, one of the two "King of Macarons" in France; the other being Pierre Herme, whose namesake used to work for Laduree.
Man, this place was quite....well fancy schmancy.....the boutique and even the counter.
We decided to head to the back area; the "Bar Laduree", which has a bit of a strange underwater theme. Had me humming "Octopus's Garden" by the Beatles.
It seemed to be just the right place to take a break and the Missus's sweet tooth was telling Her it needed to be tended to.
I started with a café noir. I love the way that these lovely shops always provide a little piece of chocolate with your coffee.....or rather, the Missus loves collecting these little tidbits.
Not being big on sweets, it was the Missus ordering all the way. A couple of macarons, which we ended up taking with us. And something from the dessert menu called the Ispahan, which are rosewater macarons sandwiching raspberries and lychee. Not cheap at 12,5€, but it was something that even I enjoyed.
Note overly sweet, with a nice balance of tartness. This was quite fragrant and very elegant as I felt like a complete barbarian trying to eat this.
The Missus loved it and She also enjoyed Her macarons which we ended up taking to go.
The service was very professional, the vibe relaxed. It was a nice little stop on our walk down the Champs-Élysées.
Ladurée 75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France
Yep, so there I was....sipping a café noir, munching on a frou-frou dessert, in a underwater themed bar on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Who'd have thunk? My day dreams ended quite quickly when the Missus nudged me and said, "ok, enough of this....let's go spend some money." A phrase that sends shudders across my wallet.....
Thanks for reading!
For other thoughts on Laduree, please check out Kirbie's posts, here and here.
After crossing above the freeway you come across Mercado Surquillo No. 1.
And while we didn't intend on spending much time checking out the market we just couldn't help ourselves. I'd forgotten how much we loved the Mercados in Peru. Though it looks like things have changed up a bit as the largest crowds here were for the "Bioferia"; the tents selling organic items.
The rest of the market was also fairly busy; especially the food and drink section.
Though we were almost waylaid by the "Festivo Gastronomical".
Which had a neat "food court" kind of feel to it.
Where some of the smells were just plain intoxicating.....
We were tempted but the Missus had Cebiche on Her mind and there was no stopping Her.
It was nice being back in Peru. It had been too long.
Mercado Surquillo No.1 Paseo de la Republica block 53 Surquillo, Lima, Peru
And there was some Cebiche calling our name from behind the market!
On our last full day in Seville we got a bit of a late start. But it was Sunday after all. As we stumbled out of our apartment over to the Plaza del Salvador we could hear the crowd before we actually saw it.
Good lord, all these young people, many having beers, at 830 in the morning! On a Sunday! I guess Saturday night just wasn't enough.
We decided on something a bit more suitable for breakfast. I mentioned my growing fondness for the simple tostada de aciete (toast with olive oil) in a previous post.
We just stopped at a corner shop and got our tostadas and espresso and were ready to go.
As we passed the very humble exterior Capilla de San José (Chapel of San José), which was open as we passed. The interior however, was a whole 'nother story. As you can see by the elaborate Baroque altarpiece.
From here we headed back in the direction of La Alameda where we had passed the night before.
This park was originally built in 1574 and was once the oldest public garden in Europe. I really like the Roman Columns. Hercules stands on the left and Julius Caesar on the right.
We saw tents set-up. Apparently there's a Sunday Market in the Plaza. So we decided to check things out.
It was a charming little "Mercadillo", full of locals.......
We even bought a very nice bottle of olive oil from one of the vendors. Then had a seat at one of the cafes to enjoy some espresso and watch the world pass for a while We even saw a character from the previous night; the "Smug Pug" making his way around; as smug and oblivious to all who gave attention as the night before. As we strutted from tree to tree, I again automatically started Overture to the Barber of Seville. I should have taken a photo, but we were just having too much fun.
Hard to believe that in the late 80's and 90's this area was a drug infested neighborhood that was once home to 35 brothels. Yes, gentrification, now it's one of the most trendy neighborhoods in Seville.
The "Weeping Virgin" has tears made of crystal, real human hair, looks down upon you with a handkerchief in her right hand and a rosary in her left. She wears five emerald brooches donated by The famous Bullfighter "El Gallo". In fact, I read that after Joselito El Gallo was gored to death, La Macarena was dressed in black for the only time in history.
And she moves many. I saw a couple of women start weeping at the sight of her. We saw women give up their babies to the staff to be brought in front of the statue.
You can actually walk in back of the statue as well. I gotta say; for some reason I really felt kind of spooked.
Still, this is pretty impressive. So impressive that many babies in Seville are named Macarena. Which does of course have ties to this song.
So yes, we've come from the Virgin Mary and Semana Santa to Human Hair to El Gallo the Bullfighter to Los del Río in a few sentences.