Friday, May 22, 2015

Random Friday Word Vomit aka Popovers are awesome. {3}

Last week was super fun. I got to go to the Cubs game with my coworkers. I love work sponsored field trips. CB was totes jelly he couldn't go, but he still wanted to show his support.


I made popovers for the first time last weekend. They are kind of similar to Yorkshire pudding- and super easy to make. They were amazing fresh out of the oven with butter and jam.


Cb went on a few runs. I'm making up for not taking him out much when the weather was crappy cold.


Last Thursday, L and I went to the Chicago Craft Beer week event: Beer Under Glass at the Garfield Conservatory. While it rained a little we still had an amazing time talking to Brewers and sampling local beers in a beautiful location. I had wanted to go for a while but the timing never worked out. I was really happy we were able to go this year.


On Sunday I ran 8 miles. It was foggy and cool out, but very humid. I love running outside and not having to wear 10 layers.


We went to another CCBW event- Goose Island Sunday Funday! I had such a fun time last year that it was a no brainer to get tickets this year. But- I was mildly disappointed in the event. It just seemed too crowded. Watching the Brewers play dodgeball against each other was fun, but waiting in line for a very small taster of BCS variants was not. Regardless it was a good way to spend time with friends.


I signed up for 2 races! I'm no longer half assing my "training" and have a much more focused plan. I'm excited to run the Original 5k again- and finally run a 5k without flying first or drinking/eating all the things. I also signed up for the Rock n Roll Chicago half- because I love running in the heat. But seriously, I love the course which runs through the city and not the lakefront. And I haven't run a half marathon in 2+ years now. Crazy. PRs are gonna fall!


CB and I ran outside before work this week and it was so nice. Seeing him happy on our runs melts my heart.


This weekend I look forward to some longer runs and breaking 30 miles in a week... Finally!!!

I also will brew more beer- another IPA and make biscuits for the Cb dog. Can't wait for a nice chill weekend.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Paris day 3-4, Petit Dejuner, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the best bread in the world, a delicious dinner, and a run in Jardin du Luxembourg


We started out day 3 at a cafe near our hotel. I loved the decor of this place- made me think of what Paris might have looked like in the 1920's. Before leaving the hotel for petit dejuner, we asked the concierge if they could call and try to make a reservation for us at one of the 2 fancier restaurants we had discovered online. Both were sold out online, and since our French was terrible, it was awesome he wanted to help us out. We wouldn't know until later in the afternoon if we actually got reservations.
I had a traditional french breakfast- basically carbs on carbs. Fresh squeezed OJ, an espresso, a french bread, a croissant and delicious strawberry jam. I could eat this every single day.
After breakfast we took the subway to Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Our first stop was Jim Morrison's grave. Also: Thank you google maps for pointing us in the right direction once in this massive cemetery.
Then we found the famous composer, Chopin's tomb.
2002 and 2015
We even made a new creepy friend!
The cemetery is huge- we didnt see many other folks there the day we went, which was a nice contrast to the craziness of the more popular destinations we went to.
After the cemetery, we decided to walk to a beer bar I had found. Along the way we saw a Charlie Hebdo memorial.
The beer place ended up being closed so we decided to grab lunch at a place we had seen on Anthony Bourdain- but on the way we saw this huge monument.
We went to "Du Pain et des Idees" for the best bread in the world. Most places in Paris do not specialize in either bread or pastry. This place is solely bread and it is out of this world delicious. I got a bread filled with tomato and goat cheese, and an apple tart which was better than any apple bread I had eaten before.
We eventually made our way back to the hotel and found out we were able to get a reservation at our #1 choice restaurant for dinner. I forget where I had found restaurant "Spring," but it sounded amazing- they don't have a set menu but create the menu based on whatever looks the best at the market that day. Later on I found out the chef is from Chicago.
We had the tasting menu which was quite an experience. There was no "menu" but instead the waiters wanted each course to be a surprise to us. We had no idea what we would be eating until the plate arrived at our table. We also got the wine paring which complimented each dish perfectly. I still need to track down some of the wines we had that night because they were so different than some of the wine I've had previously.
We had cooked oysters with butter, roasted asparagus with fish in a smoked tea broth, a filet of sole in a morel mushroom broth (we were encouraged to drink it straight from the bowl!), seared duck breast with turnip and foie gras, and an amazing trio of desserts. This dinner is one we will not forget. The whole experience was so different than anything we've had before, and the food was out of this world fresh and delicious. I would love to come back to Spring next time we visit Paris.


On day 4, and our last day in Paris, we finally went for a run around the Luxembourg Gardens. The gardens were only a 5 minute walk from our hotel and was the perfect place to enjoy a run before departing.
We did a few laps around the gardens and took photos.
This park is so beautiful and never seemed super busy with people in the times we walked through it. There were playgrounds, and bocce courts complete with coat racks.
After our run we stopped at a cafe near our hotel and I got a quiche Lorraine. It was the perfect end to our stay in Paris.
I loved the street our hotel was on (Hotel Apostrophe).
A 30 minute cab ride later and we were at CDG for our flight to Copenhagen. We had to check our carry on suitcases because the small suitcase + our carry on bag were more than the allotted 12kg per person. Yes- they weigh both of your bags together. 60 Euros later we were on our way!
We had such an amazing time in Paris. The food, the people, the architecture were everything we had dreamt about and more. I really hope we can return sooner than the 13 years it took me to come back.
And then we were off to Copenhagen!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Paris Day 2: Sacre Coeur, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Selfies, and L'avant Comptoir a 2nd time.

We woke up early and I got some pastries from "Bread and Roses." While I took 3 years of French in HS, I was completely inept at ordering in French at the cafes. But I always said a "Bonjour Madame/ Monsieur" when entering any business. - it's the basic good of being polite that opens doors and creates smiles.

We took the subway to Sacre Coeur and walked up many many stairs. The metro station near this Basilica is a shit show. I kept my purse very close to me.
It was swarming with tourists inside and out. We even walked around inside it which was nice and peaceful.

We re-created some before and after photos on the steps.

And one of me from 2002/2015 standing in a similar spot.

The area around Sacre Coeur reminded me of the market area in São Paulo- but just a little less crazy.

We walked all the way to the arc de Triomphe because it was a super nice day and we needed our quota of steps on Fitbit. Lol

We went to the top because I believe it has the best view in Paris- even better than the Eiffel tower.


We recreated a photo from when I was there in 2002. I am surprised I don't look all that different- minus the blonde hair. Large shiny sunglasses, check! Hair pulled back, check! Holding the gate with the Tower in the background, check!

I really love the view from here. There are almost 10 roads that all intersect at a roundabout that goes around the Arc. It's super fun to watch the traffic merging together.
Spiral staircase up and down.

We walked down the Champs Elysee and were very hungry so we went to cafe Paul. We had what seemed like a Croque Monsieur hot dog sandwich and a lemon tart. I also had an Orangina. Delicious.

We walked hand in hand all the way down the Champs to Place de la Concord and saw the Obelisk.

And the famous fountains.

And kept walking to the Jardin du Tuileries.

And eventually made our way to the Louvre.

And we took some selfies.

And more selfies on self timer.

Then we started walking back towards the hotel and crossed the bridge which has all the locks attached to it. Most of the segments were boarded up to prevent people from locking more locks to the locks on the bridge but there were some exposed parts.

We stopped by the famous Les Deux Maggots cafe for some rose wine. If this place was good enough for Hemingway, it was certainly good enough for us!

We got back to the hotel after a long day, cleaned up and headed back out for dinner.

I really loved just walking around Paris and seeing the narrow streets.


For dinner #2 we went back to L'Avant Comptoir. It was that good. This time we had salami and a nice chunk of stinky soft Camembert- the king of cheeses.

After dinner we walked around and I saw this street vendor. I'm no fan of chocolate, but I absolutely love sour gummies and gummy bears. I got 6 euros worth and we walked back to the hotel.


I really need to map out where we walked to see how far we went!

I love Paris.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Paris day 1. Cathedrals, Croque Monsieur, L'Avant Comptoir and La Tour Eiffel

Our flight from ORD-CDG got delayed almost 2 hours for no good reason but luckily we only arrived an hour late into Paris. We sat in the exit row near the window and it was the worst experience ever- we were freezing our asses off the entire flight! We made it a point for the return trip to not sit in that location again.

After 8 hours we saw the French countryside.

Since our flight landed at 8am, we couldn't check into our hotel, but we were able to leave our luggage behind and start exploring.


We walked through the quiet streets of Paris in the 6th arrondissement and saw "the Senat."

We then continued walking over to cathedral Sainte Chappelle because I knew L would love this church and its gorgeous stained glass windows.

After taking many photos, we continued walking around the left bank.

We stopped for some selfies on the river.

We walked past Notre Dame Cathedral and snapped a few photos. It was a complete zoo of tourists. There was also a very strong military police presence which (while they were there to protect us) made me feel a bit uneasy. A week prior French police arrested a guy who had planned to shoot up some churches-and was only caught because he had shot himself first by accident.
By now we were hungry so we found a local cafe to get some delicious lunch.

L got a ham and cheese sandwich and I got the obligatory "croque monsieur" and it was delicious. We also had a creme brûlée for desert while we were standing in the square.

Our first meal in Paris was perfect.

We keep walking around and saw the Pantheon.

In the early afternoon our room at the Hotel Apostrophe was ready and we checked in. Each room is decorated differently. It is in a quiet neighborhood away from the touristy and busy champs élysées. We took a quick nap and then it was time for dinner!

We walked through the Jardin du Luxemborg on our way to dinner. Google told us to and we didn't question it! The restaurant we were headed to made it onto both of our lists of "must eats" in Paris.

We went to L'avant Comptior for dinner in the 6th. It is a wine and tapas bar and has excellent food and a very relaxed atmosphere.

We ordered a buffalo mozzarella, cod fish croquettes, a Parmesan crumble and some cured ham with horseradish. Everything was out of this world delicious and fresh.

This place is tiny, and there are no seats. You stand at either the counter against the wall or the bar. The menu is on the ceiling. You brush shoulders with the people next to you. It is quite an experience.

After dinner and several glasses of wine, we decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower.

By now it was after 8:30pm but still a little light out. (Sun doesn't set until after 9pm!) we were lucky to see the tower sparkle for 5 minutes at 9pm.

I was so happy to be in Paris with L. F#CK jet lag. We hit the ground running and were having an amazing first evening in the city of light.

After taking many photos and video of the Eiffel tower, we went to one of the top rated beer bars in Paris, La Fine Mousse. It was a nice chill no frills bar that had a great tap list- my only complaint was it had mostly Italian beers. I was hoping to try more French beer since we don't see any in the USA. After a couple of beers we took an uber back to our hotel. Pro tip: if you can't speak the language where you are, use uber so you can put the directions into the order so you can avoid trying to pronounce where you are going and consequently avoid have a super awkward exchange.

It was an amazing first day in Paris.

-Xaarlin